Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 3)

Series starts 12/13

Game 1: Tuesday, December 13th
Game 2: Wednesday, January 25th
Game 3: Wednesday, April 19th

Hawks 99

(26-56, 8-33 away)

Cavaliers 100

(50-32, 31-10 home)

    7:00 PM ET, April 19, 2006

    Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH

    1 2 3 4 T
    ATL 30 13 23 3399
    CLE 18 31 31 20100

    Top Performers

    Atl: J. Smith 21 Pts, 5 Reb, 4 Ast, 4 Stl, 4 Blk

    Cle: A. Varejao 14 Pts, 18 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 3 Blk

    Cavs edge Hawks with LeBron, Hughes sitting out

    CLEVELAND (AP) -- This milestone was almost meaningless for the Cavaliers. To them, victory No. 50 doesn't have the significance of Game No. 83.

    Cleveland, once an NBA wasteland, is back in the playoffs.

    With LeBron James resting up for his postseason debut, Cleveland concluded its regular season with a 100-99 victory Wednesday night over the Hawks, giving the Cavaliers 50 wins for just the fourth time in franchise history.

    "We had fun tonight," forward Donyell Marshall said. "We wanted to get to 50, and we had fun. This is our last chance to have fun. Now, it gets serious. It's the second season. It's time to go to work again."

    With the win, the Cavs improved to 50-32 -- the first time they've hit the 50-win plateau since 1992-93. Also, Cleveland's Mike Brown became the first rookie coach to win 50 games since Rick Carlisle did it for Detroit in 2001-02.

    But those record-book notations didn't overshadow something much more important: The Cavaliers will face the Washington Wizards in Game 1 on Saturday.

    "We had our ups and down this year," Marshall said. "We had our share of injuries and tough times, but to come out with 50 wins in tremendous."

    On Fan Appreciation Night, the Cavaliers handed out free T-shirts, jerseys, plane tickets, cash, sneakers and pizzas. They nearly gave away a victory, too.

    They led by 14 points entering the fourth quarter, but the Hawks never stopped scrapping and got within 100-99 on Josh Smith's 3-pointer with 7.0 seconds left. Marshall missed two free throws to give Atlanta a final chance, but Smith's 3 just before the buzzer hit the back of the rim.

    "We were in games like this all year," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. "We never quit."

    Smith had 21 points -- including a ferocious slam in the fourth -- and Al Harrington 16 points and 11 rebounds for Atlanta, which finished 26-56.

    As a precaution, James didn't dress for the third time in four games because of a tender left ankle he rolled last week. Brown didn't want to take any chances with his young superstar, who made history even while on the bench.

    James finished the regular season averaging 31.4 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.6 assists to join Oscar Robertson, Jerry West and Michael Jordan as the only players in league history to get 31-7-6 in a season.

    Not wanting to risk re-injuring his ankle on the eve of his first trip to the postseason as a pro, James watched intently and nervously chewed on his nails as the Hawks rallied in the fourth quarter. He had good company on the sideline as Larry Hughes, too, got the night off.

    "It's good going in on a high note but if we would have lost I imagine our focus would be the same," said Brown, who rested most of his starters. "We still have a tough time ahead of us. That's a talented Wizards team."

    Washington won three of four against Cleveland this season.

    The Cavaliers played the first quarter and the early part of the second as if they were in an exhibition game in October. But trailing 37-25, Cleveland reeled off 14 straight points and took its first lead on a dunk by Ilgauskas.

    The Cavs closed the half on a 24-6 tear to take a 49-43 lead at the break.

    With James and Hughes in street clothes, Brown had to improvise and started Ira Newble for just the third time this season.

    Game notes

    Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert remains confident he'll be able to sign James to a contract extension this summer. "If we do the right things continually, I don't see any reason why that won't happen," Gilbert said. In August, the Cavs can offer James a five-year, $75 million "maximum" contract. ... In his last five games, Smith averaged 19.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.2 blocks. ... The Cavaliers, who have won 11 in a row at home, finished 42-40 last season and just missed the playoffs when they collapsed down the stretch. ... Hawks G Royal Ivey sat out with bronchitis. ... R&B superstar Usher, who has maintained a low profile as a minority owner with the Cavs this season, attended his third home game and sat courtside. ... James was serenaded with chants of "M-V-P! M-V-P!" in the fourth quarter.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 99 100
    FGM-FGA 34-80 (.425) 33-73 (.452)
    3PM-3PA 6-19 (.316) 6-13 (.462)
    FTM-FTA 25-32 (.781) 28-41 (.683)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 7-34 16-54
    Assists 19 16
    Turnovers 9 21
    Steals 9 5
    Blocks 7 5
    Fast Break Points 19 16
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 29 (0/0) 22 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 15 15

    Top Performers

    Josh Smith Smith
    Points: 21
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 4
    Blk: 4
    Anderson Varejao Varejao
    Points: 14
    Reb: 18
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 3