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Johnson big for surprising Hawks in OT win over Cavs

CLEVELAND (AP) -- The Atlanta Hawks, for years the NBA's ugliest ducklings, are off to a flying start.

OK, it's early. But four games into a new season, the Hawks are soaring like they once did when Dominique Wilkins ruled the air.

Joe Johnson scored 25 points -- six on consecutive possessions in overtime -- and the surprising Hawks won their third straight, 104-95 on Tuesday night over the Cleveland Cavaliers, who again couldn't make their free throws.

Tyronn Lue added 19 points, 11 assists and made a buzzer-beating layup over LeBron James to force OT for the Hawks.

Atlanta, which has had seven consecutive losing seasons and decades of futility, improved to 3-1, two seasons after the Hawks won just 13 games and one season after they started 2-16, didn't get win No. 3 until Dec. 10 and finished 26-56.

"This is a big confidence boost for us," Lue said. "We've found a way to win these games down the stretch."

Zaza Pachulia added 19 points and Josh Smith 15 for the Hawks, who had 20 turnovers -- but none in the final 10:48.

James scored 34 points -- 24 after halftime -- and Drew Gooden 21 for the Cavs, the NBA's worst free-throw shooters who went 23-of-37 from the line and missed several crucial attempts down the stretch.

James was 5-of-11 on foul shots and the Cavs went 8-of-18 on freebies in the fourth quarter and overtime.

"It's not just the free throws," James said. "It can always help, but they missed and we missed."

Yeah, but too often.

James had a chance to put the Cavaliers, who led by seven with 4:49 left, ahead by three points with 6.1 seconds left in regulation. However, he split a pair, and with another chance, Lue drove the right side and dropped a high-arching runner over James at the horn to tie it at 90-all.

"You always see LeBron on SportsCenter, and this was my chance to steal the show from him," Lue said.

His 3-pointer with 4:03 left in the extra session gave the Hawks a 95-92 lead, and after Cleveland's Donyell Marshall missed two free throws, Johnson converted a three-point play to make it 98-92.

After James split a pair of foul shots, Johnson, who added eight rebounds, eight assists and six turnovers in 46 minutes, drained a long 3-pointer -- the Hawks were 9-of-12 on 3s -- to send 20,562 fans who came out for a LeBron James bobblehead promotion home with only their souvenirs.

"I felt like it was my time," Johnson said. "I wanted to make the big shots in overtime."

It was just the Hawks' second win in 11 games against the Cavs.

Atlanta, one of the league's sorriest franchises in recent years, never recovered after opening last season 0-9. But with a young nucleus including Johnson, Smith and Marvin Williams (injured), the Hawks are confident they can do more than just compete.

"It feels good, but it's a long season," Johnson said. "Three-and-one doesn't mean a lot right now. We've got to keep grinding it out, working hard and who knows what's going to happen."

Marshall's short hook in the lane with 4:49 left gave him 10,000 career points and gave the Cavaliers an 83-76 lead. But just when the Hawks appeared to be done, they roared back and tied it at 84 on Johnson's 3-pointer with 1:58 to go.

Atlanta guard Speedy Claxton sat the second half because of soreness in both knees. He's still building up his minutes after missing the entire preseason with a broken bone in his left hand -- the same one Williams fractured.

Thanks to 14 turnovers by the Hawks, Cleveland led 38-37 at halftime despite shooting just 29 percent. However, the Cavaliers did make their free throws, hitting 10 of 12 tries.

Game notes
Now in his fourth season, James has learned the importance of getting rest. He takes a 4-hour power nap on game day. "Right after shootaround," he said. "If anything important happens between 12 and 4, I probably missed it." ... Marshall is the 269th player to reach the 10,000-point barrier and the 130th to have that many points and 5,000 career rebounds. ... Before the game, Gooden was passing around a photo of him as a 16-year-old guarding teammate Scot Pollard during a pickup game when Gooden made his unofficial visit to Kansas. "Look how skinny I am," Gooden said. ... At an average age of 23.65 years, the Hawks are the league's youngest team by more than three years.