WASHINGTON - It's sweeps week in the NBA. Even the Cleveland Cavaliers got in on the act.
The Cavaliers completed a playoff sweep for the first time in franchise history last night, beating the Washington Wizards, 97-90, with yet another unconvincing performance, doing just enough to beat a depleted team that nearly emptied its bench in the first half.
LeBron James labored through an 8-for-22 shooting night, but he made 14 of 17 free throws to finish with 31 points for the Cavaliers. He also had 11 rebounds and seven assists.
The Cavs became the third Eastern Conference team in three days to finish a first-round sweep, joining Detroit and Chicago.
The Cavaliers beat the Wizards in the first round a year ago - winning three games by one point - but Washington had Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler, who both missed this year's series with injuries.
Rockets 96, Jazz 92
HOUSTON - Tracy McGrady had 26 points and a career-high 16 assists, and Houston beat Utah to take a three-games-to-two lead in their best-of-seven series.
Yao Ming scored 21 points, sealing the victory with two free throws with 11 seconds left. Yao also grabbed 15 rebounds, the last one in the closing seconds after Deron Williams missed a desperation three-pointer.
Back home after two lethargic losses in Utah, the Rockets rediscovered their shooting touch, going 35 for 75 from the field (47 percent) and 12 for 24 from three-point range.
The Rockets can clinch their first postseason series victory since 1997 in Game 6 on Thursday in Utah.
Carlos Boozer scored 26 points but had only eight rebounds, denied a double-double for the first time in the series. Derek Fisher added 17 and Williams had 13 for the Jazz.
All-defensive team. Tim Duncan made his 10th straight NBA all-defensive first team, and San Antonio teammate Bruce Bowen was the top vote-getter in being selected for the seventh time.
Completing the team were: Nuggets center Marcus Camby, and guards Kobe Bryant of the Lakers and Raja Bell of the Suns. Voting was done by the league's 30 head coaches.
Expansion talk. NBA commissioner David Stern sees more of a need for new pro basketball teams in China than in North America.
"We will see in the next couple of years, coming out of the Beijing Olympics, the possibility of some joint venture between the NBA and someone in China about an NBA-sponsored and -branded league in China," Stern said.