Wednesday, October 8, 2003

Cleveland's James passes his first exhibition test

The Associated Press

LeBron James throws one down in the team's preseason opener Tuesday.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - LeBron James' second assist was more impressive than his first basket. Making his professional debut in the Cleveland Cavaliers' first exhibition game, James was a better passer than scorer in a 100-96 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night.

James shot 4-for-12 while scoring eight points and had three rebounds and seven assists - one as he was cutting across the lane midway through the first quarter. As a second defender came over, James quickly delivered a no-look, behind-the-back bounce pass to Zydrunas Ilgauskas for a dunk.

It was the play of the night from the 18-year-old phenom on an evening when he struggled with his outside shot but would have had more assists if his teammates had converted other nifty passes.

SUNS: Phoenix extended Stephon Marbury's contract for four years, giving the All-Star point guard the richest deal ever offered to a professional athlete in Arizona and locking up his services through 2008-09.

Marbury, an All-Star in 2001 and 2003, has two years left on a $70.9 million, six-year contract he signed with the New Jersey Nets in 1999. It will pay him $13.5 million this season and $14.6 million in 2004-05.

The value of the four extension years will vary from $76 million to $80 million, depending on how the NBA adjusts the salary cap.

NETS: New Jersey waived eight-time All-Star Dikembe Mutombo after finalizing what is believed to be a $30 million contract buyout.

BRYANT CASE: Attorneys in the Kobe Bryant case huddled with the judge but didn't answer the biggest question: Will he waive his preliminary hearing to keep potentially damaging evidence from being heard publicly?

That decision might not be made until minutes before Thursday's hearing, where prosecutors will present evidence they say proves Bryant raped a young hotel worker in his room at a mountain lodge June 30.

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Cleveland's James passes his first exhibition test

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