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Published: 6/9/2007

Cavs' James repeats slow start

BY MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Cleveland's LeBron James gets a step ahead of San Antonio defender Bruce Bowen in Game 1. James scored 14 points and had only four assists, far below expectations of Cavaliers fans. Cleveland's LeBron James gets a step ahead of San Antonio defender Bruce Bowen in Game 1. James scored 14 points and had only four assists, far below expectations of Cavaliers fans.
TONY DEJAK / AP Enlarge

SAN ANTONIO - For the second straight series, LeBron James played a Game 1 that was below expectations. Thursday against San Antonio he scored 14 points, but the more shocking numbers were just four assists and six turnovers.

James had averaged a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in the playoffs entering the finals and had dished out more than eight assists per game on average.

"I think there were a lot of unforced turnovers, a couple slams from behind, one went off my leg," James said yesterday.

"The scoring doesn't matter to me. I think the fact I was able to turn the ball over as much as I did which allowed them to get extra possessions hurt me more than anything."

Against Detroit in Game 1 James scored just 10 points. He came back in Game 2 to score 19, but also had six turnovers. James' first breakout game in the conference finals was in Game 3, when he scored 32 points.

"It's definitely going to be a point of emphasis for me to try to be aggressive in Game 2, try to get better shots for my teammates where they don't have to worry about a hand in their face, and try to get better shots for myself," James said.

Cavaliers coach Mike Brown doesn't know when James will be able to break out against the Spurs' defensive schemes.

But he assumes it will happen.

"It was great for him to go through what he went through [Thursday night]," Brown said. "It's just a matter of time, I think, when you have a player of his magnitude, until he can figure out defenses and get himself going."

LITTLE FROM BIG Z: Zydrunas Ilgauskas had a frustrating first game in the NBA finals. Ilgauskas scored just two points, a playoff low for him, in 24 minutes.

"I had some good looks around the basket, maybe just took one bad shot," Ilgauskas said. "I wasn't able to finish them. I never got into the flow, never felt like I was part of the game."

The Spurs know Ilgauskas' inside game, as well as his offensive rebounding touch, is a key for the Cavs on offense.

"He missed a couple shots where he normally scores," Spurs center Fabricio Oberto said. "He's going to make those shots in the next game."

NO JINX: James is on this week's cover of Sports Illustrated, which arrived in many subscribers' mailboxes on Thursday. Spurs guard Michael Finley said he doesn't believe in the SI cover jinx.

"No, only in the Madden Curse for football," Finley said.

FINALLY: Tim Duncan's five blocks moved him into second place on the all-time finals list, with 63 career swats. Duncan passed Shaquille O'Neal (62) but still has a ways to go to catch the leader, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (116).

Contact Maureen Fulton at:

mfulton@theblade.com

or 419-724-6160.



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