LeBron James had 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, helping the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers defeat the Dallas Mavericks, 88-81, last night.

Through three quarters, Cleveland shot only 36 percent, was 0-for-10 on three-pointers and had missed 10 free throws - yet led by six points.

The Mavericks got within one point early in the quarter and made it 81-79 with 4:43 left and James already with five fouls. But a bunch of missed threes by Dallas followed, then James pretty much ended it with a thunderous dunk in the lane with 1:10 to go.

Dirk Nowitzki had 19 points and 20 rebounds. Josh Howard had 19 points, too, but no other starter reached double digits.


* Jim Boylan was promoted to interim head coach of the Chicago Bulls, who fired Scott Skiles on Monday after the team's disappointing start.

Boylan was in his fourth season as an assistant under Skiles and has 14 years' experience in the NBA but none as a head coach at the pro level.

* Tracy McGrady will miss Houston's next two games to rest his ailing left knee. An MRI exam Monday revealed swollen tendons in the knee, but no structural damage.

* Spurs guard Brent Barry will miss up to 2 weeks after tearing a muscle his left calf.

* Boston star Kevin Garnett was the leading vote-getter for the 2008 NBA All-Star Game with 1,186,690 votes when the second set of returns were released.

Other leaders in the Eastern Conference were Cleveland's LeBron James, Miami's Dwyane Wade, New Jersey's Jason Kidd and Orlando's Dwight Howard.

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant led voting in the Western Conference (941,716), joined by Houston's Yao Ming Denver's Carmelo Anthony San Antonio's Tim Duncan and Houston's Tracy McGrady among the West leaders. *