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Inside the NBA

Three Points

January 28, 2007|PAUL NETTER

LeBRON AND ...

The Cleveland Cavaliers, who have lost five of their last seven and finished 3-4 on a recent Western trip, are not happy despite reaching midseason last week at 24-17 -- the same record they had last season. Concerns center on their league-worst free-throw shooting (68.6%), defense and, perhaps most notably, a trusted sidekick for LeBron James.

Larry Hughes, signed as a free agent in 2005 to play that role, hasn't done so, averaging a less-than-expected 15.0 points and 3.6 rebounds. He has sat out 11 games because of injury (he missed 46 last season). He also hasn't complemented James with his shooting (40.9%) or ballhandling (3.3 assists but 2.1 turnovers a game).

A LATE CALL IN UTAH

Midnight curfew and the NBA aren't usually mentioned in the same sentence.

Utah Jazz Coach Jerry Sloan has changed that, instituting one this season on the road after a preseason incident in Portland, Ore., involving four players and an exotic dancer. The district attorney's office recently found no evidence of a crime in the Oct. 23 incident, but the report said the players had returned to their hotel after 2:30 a.m. after spending several hours at a nightclub.

"After what happened in Portland, we just thought, 'Let's try to keep things under control,' " Sloan said.

A 50-50 PROPOSITION

The Phoenix Suns are the fifth team in NBA history to have two winning streaks of at least 15 games in the same season. Of the four other teams that have done so (including the 1999-2000 Lakers), two -- the 1946-47 Washington Capitols and the 1996-97 Jazz -- did not win the NBA title.

--PAUL NETTER

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