- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 27, 2008

After suffering a narrow defeat in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with the Cleveland Cavaliers, then a 30-point blowout to Cleveland in Game 2 and a 36-point rout of the Cavaliers in Game 3, the Washington Wizards maintained that the series doesn’t start until a team loses at home.

The series, by that measure, finally began today at Verizon Center, where the Cavaliers held off the Wizards 100-97 to take Game 4 and extend their series lead to a 3-1.

In a game highlighted by runs and second chances on each end, the Cavaliers’ advantage in both departments ultimately made the difference.

The Cavaliers dominated the Wizards on the boards, outrebounding them 51-31— a margin that translated into 20 second-chance points by Cleveland against only six for Washington.

Cleveland never trailed after the second quarter despite multiple charges by the Wizards. Whenever Washington pulled within striking distance, the Cavaliers always hit a big shot to steal the momentum.

Trailing the Cavaliers the entire second half, the Wizards spent the fourth quarter needing a basket or two to close the gap. But Cleveland guards Delonte West and Daniel Gibson always seemed to knock down a 3-pointer to keep the hosts at bay.

With 12 second left, Gilbert Arenas — quiet for most of the game — drove the lane and threw up an off-balance, fade-away jumper to tie the score at 97-97.

West responded on the other end with a 3-pointer, but Arenas got one more attempt to save his team. His 3-pointer over West as time expired glanced off the left side of the rim, giving Cleveland the victory.

The teams will go back to Cleveland for Game 5 on Wednesday night.

LeBron James, once again booed each time he touched and frequently serenaded with chants of “overrated,” finished with 34 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. West scored 21 points and went 5-for-8 from behind the 3-point line.

Antawn Jamison led the Wizards with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Caron Butler scored 19 and Brendan Haywood 16. Arenas, who missed much of Game 3 because of a chronic knee problem, did not score in the first half and finished with 10 points.


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