03/21/2007 Mavericks @ Cleveland
CLEVELAND, March 21 (AP) -- With both superstars struggling, the one with the better supporting cast won.
The Mavericks, who have the NBA's best record at 56-11, have won four straight and are 3-0 on a six-game road trip that's included victories over Detroit and New York.
LeBron James had a tough night shooting and got roughed up as well. He finished with 31 points but was 12-for-28 shooting as he single-handedly tried to put his team back in it.
James finally got in a groove early in the fourth quarter, scoring 11 straight on a 3-pointer and a series of drives to get within six.
The Cavaliers got their only bench points when Donyell Marshall hit a 3-pointer with 5:10 left in the fourth to make it 86-80. But Nowitzki responded with a 3-pointer, then a jumper to deflate the crowd and the Cavaliers' comeback.
James said before the game that he gets energized for Western Conference teams because the East doesn't get enough respect.
But James (1-of-9) and Nowitzki (1-of-6) both started off cold, each scoring just eight points in the first half.
Nowitzki shot 9-of-24 with nine rebounds and six assists. He shot an airball on a late 3-pointer.
As if James' night wasn't hard enough, he banged his head on the floor after getting spun around by Josh Howard going for loose ball. He was slow to get up but stayed in the game. James also took an elbow from Nowitzki with 1:39 left and fell to the floor.
The Mavericks took over the lead for good with a 14-0 run when Cleveland went eight minutes without scoring between the first and second quarters.
The Cavaliers fell to 18-10 against the West and 12-2 at home. Those records lead all Eastern Conference teams, but the Cavaliers have failed to top the league's best team.
Cleveland has now lost two straight after winning eight in a row. The Mavericks beat the Cavaliers 95-92 on March 1.
Both teams were playing on the second night of a back-to-back. The Mavericks won at New York on Tuesday night and the Cavaliers lost in overtime to Charlotte.
All five Cleveland starters were in double figures. Drew Gooden scored 19 points and Sasha Pavlovic 16 for the Cavaliers. But Cleveland's bench managed just three points on 1-for-11 shooting in a combined 58 minutes.
Devin Harris scored 17 points with six assists, punishing the Cavaliers every time they tried to get something going.
Notes: Mavericks swingman Devean George, who has missed the last five games (sore right knee), will rejoin the team Thursday. ... G Greg Buckner, out since he sprained his left knee March 14 against Phoenix, will practice Thursday.