CLEVELAND - With LeBron James playing cautiously on a sprained left ankle, Drew Gooden scored 19 of his 24 points before halftime last night, powering the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 109-102 victory over the Washington Wizards and a two-games-to-none lead in their first-round playoff series.

Gooden normally doesn't have many offensive plays called for him by Cleveland coach Mike Brown, who may have to rethink that philosophy after the forward came through on a night when James was clearly not himself.

The Wizards made it interesting in the final minute. They kept pecking away at Cleveland's lead and closed to within 105-102 on a three-pointer by Jarvis Hayes with 18 seconds left.

Larry Hughes then made four free throws as Cleveland closed it out and sent the best-of-seven series to Washington for Game 3 on Saturday.

James, who twisted his ankle in Game 1, still managed to get 27 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists - roughly his average this season.

Antawn Jamison had 31 points for the Wizards, but Antonio Daniels (11) was the only other starter in double figures.

Mavericks 112, Warriors 99

DALLAS - Jason Terry scored 28 points, Dirk Nowitzki had 23 and Josh Howard led a 15-2 run in the third quarter that sent Dallas past Golden State, evening their series.

Dallas had lost six straight to Golden State dating to last season. The Mavericks even tried a new starting lineup in Game 1, but that only led to a 12-point loss.

They went back to the formula that won 67 games in the regular season and were in synch from the start.

Golden State guard Baron Davis was ejected with 0.2 seconds left in thethird quarter, then teammate Stephen Jackson joined him later in the fourth quarter, both for getting two technical fouls.

Spurs 97, Nuggets 88

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Tim Duncan scored 22 points, grabbed seven rebounds, dished out five assists and blocked five shots as San Antonio held off Denver to even their first-round series at one game each.

The Spurs squandered a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter before wrapping it up.

Manu Ginobili had eight points in the fourth quarter and Duncan added seven in the final 12 minutes to save the Spurs from losing two home games against sixth-seeded Denver.

Pacers fire Carlisle. After four tumultuous years - and after Indiana failed to make the playoffs for the first time in a decade - the team fired Rick Carlisle as its coach.

Carlisle said he understood it was time for the Pacers to hear a "new voice." Team president Larry Bird said Carlisle has an option to return to the team in another capacity. Carlisle was appointed vice president in October and has until June 15 to decide if he wants to keep that title.

The Pacers finished the season 35-47, their worst since 1988-89.

Woodson to return. Mike Woodson will return as coach of the Atlanta Hawks next season, team president Bernie Mullin said.

Woodson will be back for his fourth season despite the Hawks' missing the playoffs for the eighth straight year.

Mullin said Woodson deserved another chance after enduring a season-long battle with injuries to his players.

Surgery for Maggette. Los Angeles Clippers swingman Corey Maggette was scheduled to undergo an arthroscopic procedure on his right knee today.

The Clippers said the operation would be done to alleviate the intermittent pain Maggette suffered in his knee during the season.

Although bothersome, the condition did not cause Maggette to miss playing time.