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Cleveland at Atlanta

LeBron scores 31, hangs around for Cavs win over Hawks

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
  •  

ATLANTA -- This time, no one could accuse LeBron James of leaving the court too early.

Dominating the fourth quarter, James scored 31 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers pulled away from the Atlanta Hawks for a 106-95 victory Friday night.

James scored 13 points in the final period, including a trio of three-point plays. He also wowed the crowd with a couple of high-flying blocks on back-to-back possessions to ruin any hope of a comeback by the home team.

"The fourth quarter is the best quarter to me," James said. "It's when you've got to execute. It's when I need to put my cape on and try to help our team win basketball games. And if I'm going to be the leader of the team, then that's the quarter I need to be my best."

The Hawks won at Cleveland in the teams' first meeting of the season, outlasting the Cavaliers 104-95 in overtime. James was criticized after the game for walking toward the locker room in the final seconds while Atlanta dribbled out the clock.

"These guys came into our building and beat us, so we kind of had a little bit of revenge back to them," James said. "We came out tonight with a focus, to try to get a win on the road, and we did that."

When the buzzer sounded on this one, James was right in the middle of things, shaking hands with Joe Johnson and the rest of the Hawks before heading to the locker room. The Cleveland star also had eight assists, seven rebounds and three steals.

"I did a great job of being in attack mode, feeling my comfort zone," James said. "I hit a couple pull-ups and then everybody else got off."

Johnson scored 31 points to lead Atlanta, which fell behind by 10 points before the game was three minutes old and never led.

The Hawks, who trailed by as many as 15 points, rallied for a 79-all tie heading to the fourth quarter before a sellout crowd.

That's where James took control, starting the period with a drive to the basket that drew a foul by Lorenzen Wright. The shot went in and James added a free throw, putting the Cavaliers ahead to stay on the way to just their second win in five games.

Cleveland bolted ahead 12-2 on Eric Snow's fast-break layup off a pass from James, forcing the Hawks to play catchup the rest of the way. They finally pulled even for the first time since the opening tip when Johnson hit a pair of free throws with 27 seconds left to make it 77-all.

After Cleveland went back ahead on Anderson Varejao's basket, set up by pass from James, the Hawks pulled even again when Tyronn Lue found Wright for a lay-in at the buzzer.

That was the last hurrah for the Hawks. Cleveland put the game away with a 15-6 run, capped off by another three-point play by James. He found himself in a mismatch with Atlanta backup Matt Freije, drove around the defender and put in the shot while getting slapped and grabbed all the way through the lane.

James' free throw make it 104-92 with 3:17 remaining, and the Hawks were done.

"They got off to a great start," Johnson said. "That definitely hurt us. It's the same trend over and over. We get a good crowd and we can't perform for them."

Damon Jones added 15 points for the Cavaliers, going 3-of-4 from beyond the arc and taunting the crowd after every one.

"I play this game with so much pizazz," he said during a timeout.

Atlanta's Zaza Pachulia had 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Lue added 17 points and several dazzling moves to set up open shots for his teammates.

But the Hawks lost Josh Smith in the third quarter. He got scratched in the left eye and didn't return. Coach Mike Woodson listed him as day-to-day with the team heading off a West Coast road trip for five games in eight days.

Notes

  • The clock above one of the goals went out early in the third quarter with the Cavaliers preparing to shoot free throws. While one official went over to the scorer's table to discuss the situation, Cleveland's Drew Gooden fixed the malfunctioning clock by simply pulling on the net, slightly jarring the goal and bringing it back on line.
  • The crowd of 19,650 was Atlanta's fourth sellout in eight home games. The Hawks had seven sellouts all of last season.
  • Varejao took a shot to the chin with seven minutes remaining, dripping blood on the court. As that was being cleaned up, the Brazilian headed off to the locker room to get six stitches.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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LeBron puts up 31 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and three steals for the Cavs.  (Getty Images)
LeBron puts up 31 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and three steals for the Cavs. (Getty Images)
Scoreboard
Cleveland (10-6) «32301727106
Atlanta (6-8) 2626271695
CLE:L. James 31 Pts
CLE:Z. Ilgauskas 7 Reb
CLE:E. Snow 8 Ast
ATL:J. Johnson 31 Pts
ATL:Z. Pachulia 11 Reb
ATL:T. Lue 5 Ast
Players of the Game
AtlantaCleveland

J. Johnson

L. James
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
31543178

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Cleveland
L. James, SF4312-236-1078431
Z. Ilgauskas, C304-61-27139
E. Snow, PG295-113-438213
D. Gooden, PF293-64-670210
S. Brown, SG132-60-01144
D. Jones, PG336-80-021215
D. Marshall, PF213-62-27019
D. Gibson, PG183-60-03038
A. Varejao, PF163-41-54107
S. Pavlovic, SF50-00-00010
I. Newble, SF40-20-01000
S. Pollard, CDid Not Play
L. Hughes, SGDid Not Play
D. Wesley, SGDid Not Play
D. Jones, PFDid Not Play
Totals 41-7817-29422022106
 52.6%58.6% 
Atlanta
J. Johnson, SG4412-236-854031
Z. Pachulia, C387-106-8112520
S. Claxton, PG232-51-22435
J. Smith, SF172-44-54038
S. Williams, PF150-40-03040
T. Lue, PG343-810-1135117
S. Stoudamire, SG254-90-020110
M. Freije, SF220-60-00040
L. Wright, C171-10-01042
S. Jones, PF51-10-01002
M. Williams, FDid Not Play
R. Ivey, PGDid Not Play
J. Childress, SGDid Not Play
E. Batista, PFDid Not Play
C. Bozeman, SGDid Not Play
Totals 32-7127-3432152595
 45.1%79.4% 
Other Games
Bos 102 Final
Tor 106
Char 109 Final
Wash 121
NY 100 Final
Det 108
Chi 111 Final
NO 108
Den 106 Final
Min 92
Sac 90 Final
Dal 109
Mil 116 Final
Pho 122
Orl 91 Final
Port 89
Ind 103 Final
Sea 105