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Cavaliers-Wizards subplots keep coming

By Tom Withers
Associated Press
CLEVELAND ó Overrated hasnít worked. Now one of the Washington Wizards is calling LeBron James another name: Crybaby.
Following Clevelandís 100-97 win in Game 4 on Sunday, James, who has absorbed two flagrant fouls in this rough-and-tumble playoff series and has been banged around by the Wizards, was asked about Washingtonís tough-guy tactics.
iI guess thatís what they want to do ó hurt LeBron James in this series,î he said. iItís not working.î
On Monday, Wizards center Brendan Haywood countered.
iAwww,î Haywood said in a whiny, high-pitched voice to mock James. iThey are trying to hurt me.î
Haywood, who was called for a flagrant-two foul and ejected from Game 2 after shoving James, believes itís time for Clevelandís superstar to stop complaining.
iI mean, come on, man, this is the playoffs,î Haywood said following Mondayís practice. iHe wears 23; he wants to be Michael Jordan. I can respect that ó heís a great player. You saw what Mike went through. Mike got fouled way worse than this. No one is trying to hurt him, everybody is trying to play basketball, trying to play tough. Play basketball and leave it alone.î
If it was only that easy.
With at least one game to go, Washington vs. Cleveland Part III has featured weeks of back-and-forth trash talk, intense games loaded with hard fouls, even dueling rap stars. Haywoodís remarks ó and a postgame comment from James ó will provide the backdrop as the teams prepare for Game 5 on Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
With a win, the Cavaliers will close out the Wizards for the third straight year in the postseason, something Washingtonís players insisted wasnít possible before the series began. To finally eliminate Cleveland, they would have to stop ó or at least slow down ó James, but other than knocking him to the floor a few times and winning Game 3 in a stunning blowout, that has hardly happened.
On Sunday, James turned his anger from a flagrant foul committed against him by DeShawn Stevenson on the Wizards with his best all-around game of the series.
In 44 minutes, he scored 34 points with 12 rebounds and seven assists, the final one to Delonte West, whose 3-pointer from the left corner with 5.4 seconds left gave the Cavs their two-game cushion.
Washingtonís plan from the outset was to be rough with King James, who has been knocked on his royal rear-end several times. But James has always gotten up, and through four games, heís averaging 29.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists.
Following Game 4, James was asked if the Wizards can come back. He considered the question, repeated it and then answered it with all the subtlety of one of his ferocious slam dunks.
iDo I think they can do it?î James said. iNo.î
Wham!
Stevensonís hard foul in the second quarter on Sunday ratcheted up the animosity between the Wizards forward and James. Stevenson, who called James ioverratedî following a game in March, came across the lane and swiped his right arm across the top of Jamesí head, knocking off the All-Starís headband and sending him sprawling to the floor.
James popped up immediately and took a few steps toward Stevenson, who has turned his matchup against James into a personal grudge match. James kept his cool, but noted that if the play had happened on a schoolyard in Akron, things might have gone differently.
The NBA fined Stevenson $25,000 for imaking menacing gesturesî during the first quarter of Sundayís game.
Cavaliers coach Mike Brown praised James for keeping his composure. Not only have the Wizards been physical with the 23-year-old, but James was booed every time he touched the ball and serenaded with chants of iover-ratedî by Washingtonís raucous crowd.
iIt takes a special human being to keep your poise with all that has gone on,î said Brown, who gave his players the day off on Monday.
Haywood, who also got tangled up with James in Game 1, couldnít remember a player ever saying he felt another team was trying to hurt him.
iBut the game has changed a lot,î he said. iBack in the day, you definitely couldnít have said that with the nature of the game with the Pistons, the Bad Boys, the Knicks. You would have been seen as flat-out soft.î

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