Cleveland-Houston: Cavaliers Still Undefeated at Home, Soar Over Rockets 99-90

Eric MoonContributor IDecember 23, 2008

The Cleveland Cavaliers (24-4) continue to remain unbeaten at home beating the Houston Rockets (19-10) 99-90 at Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday nite.

The Cavs now 14-0 at home are the first team to accomplish this feat since the 1995-96 season when the Chicago Bulls and the Orlando Magic won 37 and 33 games straight respectively.

Tonight's game had the feel of a playoff intensity, two teams similar in style battled hard for 48 minutes of action at the Q.

Houston coming into tonight's game had won 11 straight road games against Eastern Conference teams dating back to last year. Something had to give.

"I told Ben Wallace that today was a heavyweight fight," said LeBron James. "When you go against Houston, you know it's going to be a physical game. The addition of Ron Artest makes them really physical. I had to bring my 'A' game, especially on the defensive end. I knew I was going to have to guard multiple guys because you do anything for the team and I was able to accomplish that."

And physical it was, the two teams tussled with one-another in the first half fighting for position. Pushing, shoving, throwing elbows and a couple of technical fouls (Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Yao Ming) fought to a tie at 47 at the break.

In the second half King James turned the heat up scoring 15 of his game high 27 points in the third quarter, two on a beautiful feed from Mo Williams for the alley-oop dunk as James was cutting from the baseline soaring in the air crushing the rim.

James also had game highs in rebounds (nine), steals (three), and turnovers with seven.

Williams chipped in with 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting, scoring 10 of them in the final period. Daniel Gibson hit two crucial three-pointers in the final period and added six rebounds in the game finishing with 11 points along with Big Z.

The Cavs made a mini run pushing their largest lead of the game to 14 at 84-70 on a Williams lay-up. But the Rockets fought back able to cut the lead to one at 86-85 on free throws from Yao.

The play of the game came with 1:05 left in the game Houston down seven, Yao took the entry pass from Rafer Alston and appeared to have an easy deuce, but LeBron came creeping over from the weak-side pinning the 7-6 center’s shot on the glass sending the sold-out Q into a frenzy.

"I think that was his best block of the year," said Williams. "He's had a lot of them, but that's amazing. That's a big guy. Going up, he's so close to the rim and you have to jump so quick to get it. I think that, in my opinion, that was the best block of the year."

Ron Artest would put the final stamp on the game with a technical foul in the final seconds of the game for shoving James down to the floor.

Houston was led by Alston with 20 points followed by Yao with 19, 13-of-13 from the charity stripe. Tracy McGrady had a rough nite scoring only four points on just 2-of-7 shooting in 30 minutes.

"Those four games in five nights caught up to me," said McGrady.  "I couldn't get it going, one of those nights where I'm not 100 percent. Feeling good on five days rest instead of one and to try to come out here and play against a great team like this on the fourth night, I was feeling pretty tight."

He also added, "I just didn't have the lift. That's why I really wasn't as aggressive as I normally am because I just didn't have it."

This was a game the Cavaliers needed to play against another championship caliber team to prove to the league and themselves they are no fluke.

"From a physical nature and a mental toughness standpoint, yes, it was a taxing game for both teams. It was good to see our team respond the right way,"said coach Mike Brown.

The Cavs have won 23 of the last 25 games after starting the season 1-2.

They also have won nine straight games against the Western Conference.

The Cavs are now off until Thursday nite when the Washington Wizards invade the Q.