"Whatever we needed, he provided tonight," coach Paul Silas
said. "He fuels us. As LeBron goes, so we go. He just wouldn't let
James had 40 points, nine rebounds and seven assists to help the
Cavaliers defeat the Atlanta Hawks 111-102 Tuesday night for their
third victory in four games.
Jeff McInnis and Zydrunas Ilgauskas each scored 20 points for
Cleveland, which won its fifth straight against the struggling
Hawks. The Cavs ended a two-game road losing streak and improved to
6-9 away from Gund Arena.
"There's not too many teams that play well on the road
anyway," James said. "We've just got to come in with intensity
like this every time we're on the road. It's simple as that."
James, who entered with a 24.6 average ranked fifth in the NBA,
finished three points shy of his career high set Nov. 24 against
Detroit. He went over 30 points for the seventh time this season.
Running down the left side and taking McInnis' fast-break pass,
James fed Anderson Varejao with a bounce pass for a dunk that gave
the Cavs their biggest lead, 94-82, with 5:38 left. That basket
ended a 15-4 run that began after Tony Delk hit consecutive
3-pointers for Atlanta.
"LeBron, that's what he's good at," McInnis said. "We all
play behind LeBron. Like in the fourth quarter, LeBron told me to
get going. I got on the pick-and-roll and got some baskets. He got
Tractor Traylor into the game. We've got guys that can hurt you."
James' most spectacular basket came on a fast-break dunk in the
second quarter. He cradled the ball in his right arm before using
his right hand to jam it through the rim and cut the Hawks' lead to
Antoine Walker hit a 3-pointer to make it 106-100 with 57.3
seconds remaining, but it was too late as the Hawks lost for the
seventh time in eight games.
"We have to learn how to play for 48 minutes," Walker, who
finished with 17 points. "We have to be able to maintain our
defense in the third quarter. We're not putting it together for 48
Al Harrington led Atlanta with a season-high 31 points. Hawks
coach Mike Woodson liked what he saw from Harrington.
"He was steady," Woodson said. "I thought the team played
well, but again I'm not looking at offense. I'm looking at defense.
We didn't do enough of that."
James, who turns 20 on Thursday, is the youngest player to reach
500 career assists and rebounds. He surpassed Philadelphia's Allen
Iverson, who had 36 against the Hawks on Dec. 6, for the most
points this season by an Atlanta opponent.
Ilgauskas was pleased with how the Cavs turned a one-point
halftime deficit into a 79-75 lead entering the fourth. Cleveland
entered with a 2-7 road record when trailing after three.
"In the last couple of weeks the third quarter has been a
killer for us," Ilgauskas said. "We just come out flat and just
shoot ourselves out of the game right out of the gates. Today that
was the difference. We came out strong and took the lead."
Hawks C Jason Collier started but played just two
first-half minutes and 14 overall after colliding with Shaquille
O'Neal the previous night and re-injuring his jaw. Woodson expects
Collier to visit a dentist in the next couple of days. ... Atlanta
scored a season-high 51 points in the first half. ... The Cavs took
16 first-half free throws, making 14, while Atlanta was just
1-for-1. ... Cleveland improved to 16-8 with G Ira Newble, a former
Hawk, starting. ... Atlanta reported a crowd of 19,445, the second
sellout of the season.