- The Washington Times - Monday, April 13, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Cleveland Cavaliers clinched the NBA’s best record and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs Monday night behind LeBron James’ 37 points in a 117-109 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

Getting the home-court edge was especially important because Cleveland has a 39-1 record at home, the best in the league.

Delonte West scored 20 points, Mo Williams had 18 and Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 16 points and 10 rebounds for Cleveland, which won its fifth straight.

Danny Granger scored 38 points, rookie Brandon Rush scored 27 and Troy Murphy had 17 points and 13 rebounds for Indiana.

The Pacers had already been eliminated from the playoff race, but had won seven of 10 and had been playing particularly well on offense. The Cavaliers took the Pacers seriously after Indiana stunned them 96-95 on Feb. 10 at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Cleveland was able to focus a day after a 31-point win over Boston.

Indiana led 41-38 in the second quarter before Cleveland closed the first half with a 24-6 run during which James scored 11 points to take a 62-47 lead.

Cleveland took a 73-59 lead early in the third quarter after James went on another scoring spree that included a monster two-handed dunk down the middle of the lane and a 3-pointer from the left wing.

Indiana hung tough and narrowed its deficit. Rush was fouled on a dunk, and the free throw with 1:39 left in the third quarter trimmed Cleveland’s lead to 84-80. The Cavs led 91-84 at the end of the period.

Cleveland stayed ahead throughout the fourth quarter. A baseline tomahawk dunk by James got the bench players out of their seats and gave the Cavaliers a 107-98 lead. Williams stepped back to drain a 3-pointer from the right corner with 1:29 remaining to give the Cavaliers a 114-104 lead and put the game out of reach.

Notes:@ The Cavaliers were very loose, and had what looked like a slam-dunk contest before the game. James’ array of dunks had the crowd in a frenzy well before tip-off. … Granger made a 3-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer to give the Pacers a 27-26 lead. … Indiana G Marquis Daniels sat out for the 12th straight game with a sprained right wrist. … Murphy collected his 48th double-double, the most for an Indiana player since the Pacers joined the NBA in 1976. … The Pacers had just their third sellout of the season, with a crowd of 18,165.

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