Get used to the “MVP ... MVP” chants that filled Quicken Loans Arena late Tuesday night. King James doesn’t look ready for his team to give up its throne too easily. LeBron James put together another monster night, leading the Cavaliers to a 109-104 overtime win over the Celtics. Cleveland won its fourth straight by handing Boston just its second loss.
Get used to the “MVP ... MVP” chants that filled Quicken Loans Arena late Tuesday night. King James doesn’t look ready for his team to give up its throne too easily. LeBron James put together another monster night, leading the Cavaliers to a 109-104 overtime win over the Celtics. Cleveland won its fourth straight by handing Boston just its second loss. A sell-out crowd of 20,562 watched an early showdown of the defending Eastern Conference champs against a team many pick to win it this season. But with James, the short-handed Cavs continue to show they can be as menacing as the new Beast of the East with its heralded “Big Three.” “No matter if we’re short-handed or not, we know how to win ballgames,” James said. “We have guys that have been in pretty tough games, so we know how to win ballgames no matter what the score is, no matter how much time is on the clock.” They also have James, who looks like the NBA’s top player a month into the season. He had 38 points, 13 assists, four rebounds, two steals and two blocks. “LeBron, again ... amazing, as simple as that,” Cavs Head Coach Mike Brown said. James, who had triple-doubles in his previous two games, took this one over by scoring 11 points in overtime. He opened the OT with a strong driving score and blocked a Ray Allen shot, as the Cavs led the rest of the way. James also delivered a 3-pointer from out top midway through the OT and went 6-for-6 at the foul line down the stretch. “He was great. He was fantastic,” Celtics Head Coach Doc Rivers said. “He made big shots, and that’s who he is. ... He hurt us as much with the pass, to me, as with the scoring. When he’s not only scoring and getting everybody else involved, then he’s a killer.” Forward Drew Gooden and center Zydrunas Ilgauskas played key roles, too. “They came to play tonight and had an impact on the game on both ends of the floor,” Brown said. Gooden had a season-high 24 points and 13 rebounds, making 11-of-15 shots and playing solid defense vs. Kevin Garnett. Ilgauskas had 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting to go with 14 rebounds, five assists and four blocks. Cleveland’s power trio of James, Gooden and Ilgauskas combined for 77 points, 31 rebounds and 18 assists. Boston’s “Big Three” of Allen, Garnett and Paul Pierce had 64 points, 18 rebounds and 15 assists. “We don’t want no tag. We don’t want no ‘Big Three,’” James said. “We go out there and do our job. ... Z’s playing career basketball right now, Drew’s continuing to get better and I’m doing my part.” Ilgauskas hit four of his first five shots to help the Cavs take an early 12-point lead. But by halftime, Boston led, 49-46. Allen had 16 of his team-high 29 in the first half. The third quarter belonged to Gooden, who shot 8-for-8 -- the first Cav in six years to make at least that many shots in a perfect quarter. “We got a little stagnant,” Brown said. “We didn’t know what to do with the basketball, at times, and we found Drew ... and he came through for us.” Gooden drilled an assortment of jumpers. He worked each baseline, often in tandem with James, turning around and facing up for his shots. Boston took a 79-74 lead early in the fourth, but James led the Cavs back. Six points from him keyed a 9-0 run. “We kept our poise and kept our composure,” Brown said. Sasha Pavlovic’s 3-pointer from the left corner after two quick passes by James and Daniel Gibson tied the game, 92-92, with 59 seconds left. Each team missed chances late to win. Allen, a 91.7-percent foul shooter, missed two free throws with 23.1 seconds left. James missed a 20-footer at the buzzer. James didn’t want to call this a “statement win,” saying it’s too early for that. But it was big. “For us to get a win against those guys does help confidence-wise,” Brown said. “But at the end of the day, it’s one game. ... We have to get ready for Detroit (tonight) because that’s going to be a tough ballgame for us.” Reach Canton Repository sports writer Chris Beaven at (330) 580-8345 or email@example.com.