- The Washington Times - Monday, April 28, 2008

When Delonte West drilled his 3-pointer in the corner to lift the Cleveland Cavaliers to a Game 4 victory yesterday, it was an all too familiar scenario for the Washington Wizards and their home crowd.

In the three years the Wizards have faced the Cavaliers in the playoffs, if James hasn’t come up with a demoralizing shot, he has a teammate to come up with the dagger.

Two years ago the Wizards played host to the Cavaliers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals and held a 113-112 lead with less than 10 seconds remaining in overtime.

James had the ball, drove the lane and found backup guard Damon Jones along the baseline. Jones hit a 17-foot jumper for the winning basket and eliminated the Wizards from the playoffs.

“A couple years it was Damon Jones, and it seems like he was in the exact same spot,” Antawn Jamison said. “That’s why he’s LeBron James. He demands so much attention. … Tonight, he did a great job of finding the open guy when he needed to.”

Said James: “I think Washington definitely had flashbacks. We’ve definitely had some big shots in this building. My shots, Sasha [Pavlovic] hit a dagger last year right by their bench. Damon’s shot two years ago and now Delonte’s.”

Flagrant fuels run

With Washington up 39-38 in the second quarter, James drove to the hole for a potential easy layup, only to be chased down from behind and slammed to the ground by DeShawn Stevenson.

Stevenson, who made a windmill motion with his arm while swinging at the ball with a closed fist, connected with James’ head, stripped his headband off and was called for a flagrant foul.

The play angered James, who sprung to his feet and had to be separated from Stevenson. He unloaded his frustration, scoring 10 of his team’s next 16 points, and Cleveland went in at halftime up 54-44.

“That got him mad,” Arenas said. “He went on a [10-0] run all by himself, and we lost our poise.”

James said had the play occurred in a blacktop game, he wouldn’t have been able to keep his cool as easily.

“If this was in the park where I grew up playing basketball, something would’ve happened,” he said with a grin. “But I guess that’s what they want to do this year: hurt LeBron James. Well, it’s not working.”

James: Series over

LeBron James predicted a hostile environment for the Wizards in Game 5 in Cleveland on Wednesday.

The Cavaliers’ faithful rained down insults on Washington’s players almost constantly in the first two games of the series, and James said it will be even worse this time. The Wizards haven’t won in Cleveland this season and are 0-5 in the last three postseasons at Quicken Loans Arena.

“Our fans will do whatever it takes to help us advance to the next level,” he said.

When asked whether he expected the Wizards to rebound and force Game 6, James gave an emphatic answer.

“Do I think they can do it? No.”


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