LeBron James played with his aching back and the Cavaliers rallied for a much-needed win.
James, who didn't practice Monday and Tuesday because of back spasms, scored 33 points as the Cavaliers overcame a 14-point deficit to defeat the New Jersey Nets, 104-83, last night in Cleveland.
While the NBA's leading scorer moved stiffly at times during his 35 minutes on the floor, the results were vintage James. He was 11 of 21 from the field, made 10 of 13 from the line, grabbed seven rebounds, and had eight assists.
In James's mind, there was no doubt he was going to play and play well.
"I'm going to do what I have to do to help us win," he said. "I didn't feel 100 percent, but I felt I could do everything in my arsenal that needs to be done for us to win."
Teammate Wally Szczerbiak, who scored 14 points, was succinct in his analysis of James.
"He's unbelievable," Szczerbiak said.
The Nets led, 67-53, midway through the third period before the Cavaliers rallied to take a 76-74 lead going into the fourth. Bostjan Nachbar's 3-pointer to begin the fourth gave New Jersey a 77-76 lead, but Cleveland scored the next 9 points.
Sasha Pavlovic had a jumper, Joe Smith scored two baskets, and Szczerbiak added a 3-pointer to put Cleveland ahead, 85-77.
As the Cavaliers took control, New Jersey went scoreless on 10 straight possessions and didn't score again until Vince Carter's two free throws with 4:36 left. The Cavaliers took a 90-79 lead on James's 3-point play with 4:23 to play. The Nets scored 9 points in the fourth quarter.
Szczerbiak scored 14 and Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 13 for the Cavaliers, who lead Washington by two games for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Rockets 103, SuperSonics 80 - Rafer Alston scored 18 points and Luis Scola added 13 points and 12 rebounds as host Houston, playing without Tracy McGrady, easily beat Seattle.
McGrady sat out with a sore left shoulder that's bothered him for more than a week, but the Rockets didn't miss him against the Sonics, who've lost 11 straight road games and 18 of their last 20 games overall.
Luther Head started for McGrady and scored 16 and Steve Novak added a career-high 17 points off the bench as Houston kept pace with first-place New Orleans in the tightly packed Western Conference playoff race.
Suns 96, Spurs 79 - Amare Stoudemire scored 21 points and five other Phoenix players scored in double digits in the Suns' victory in San Antonio.
The Suns won their second game in a row on the second night of a back-to-back and remained in sixth place in the Western Conference.
Shaquille O'Neal had 8 of his 16 points in the decisive fourth quarter and grabbed nine rebounds for Phoenix.
Tim Duncan scored 23 points and had 10 rebounds for the Spurs, and Tony Parker added 20 points.
Raptors 111, Bucks 93 - Chris Bosh had 32 points and 11 rebounds and host Toronto ended a three-game losing streak.
Former Raptor Charlie Villanueva had a season-high 38 points and a career-high seven 3-pointers. He scored 25 of Milwaukee's first 29 points.
Anthony Parker added 18 points for the Raptors, who have struggled despite clinching a playoff spot last week. Toronto lost 15 of its previous 21 games.
Magic 115, Bulls 83 - Dwight Howard had 30 points and 14 rebounds to help Orlando beat visiting Chicago.
Howard played with six stitches in his upper lip, the result of a collision in practice Tuesday with 6-foot-11-inch reserve Marcin Gortat. Howard recorded his NBA-leading 67th double-double, one short of Shaquille O'Neal's franchise record from the 1992-93 season.
76ers 101, Pistons 94 - Andre Iguodala scored 25 points, hitting a season-high four 3-pointers for host Philadelphia.
Samuel Dalembert added 20 points and 13 rebounds for Philadelphia, Willie Green scored 15, and Lou Williams had 12 points and seven assists off the bench. Iguodala also had 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and 5 steals.
Hornets 122, Timberwolves 90 - Chris Paul had 19 points and 16 assists as New Orleans bounced back to win on the road.
Peja Stojakovic scored 24 points and David West had 22 for the Hornets, who scored just 66 points in a loss to Utah Tuesday.
Knicks 109, Bobcats 107 - Fred Jones made the go-ahead 3-pointer with 3:47 left and scored 15 points, and host New York beat Charlotte to match a season high with its third straight victory.