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Atlanta at Cleveland

Cavaliers beat Hawks for ninth win in 10 games

CBSSports.com wire reports
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CLEVELAND -- As the rim neared and with two 6-foot-10 players in his path, LeBron James took flight unsure of his next move.

So he dunked -- left-handed.

"I just kind of made that one up," he said.

James didn't reach his scoring average and it didn't matter as the Cleveland Cavaliers rolled past the Atlanta Hawks 110-96 on Saturday night for their ninth win in 10 games.

James, who came in as the NBA's top scorer averaging 29.5 points, finished with 24 -- 19 in the second half -- on 8-of-19 shooting. He added eight assists, seven rebounds and a few more highlight-package dunks as the Cavaliers improved to 10-3 to match their best start since the 1988-89 season.

James dunked once lefty (his weaker hand), a few times with his right and rocked a few through the rim with both as his teammates found him with a few alley-oop passes.

James doesn't necessarily rate his dunks, but he likes delivering them.

"It all depends on what part of the game it is, how the flow is going and whether it's a big bucket or not," he said. "Sometimes you want to get the momentum going your way. I enjoy them. I do."

Playing for the first time since their eight-game winning streak ended in Detroit, the Cavs jumped to an 11-0 lead, pushed their advantage to 18 in the second quarter and 28 in the third while improving to 7-0 at home. Cleveland is the only Eastern Conference team not to lose on its home floor this season.

And if the Cavs play like this, it's going to be tough for anyone to beat them inside Quicken Loans Arena.

"They look great," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said of the Cavs. "They're one of the top teams in the East. They have a legitimate shot to get to the Finals. You have to play at a high level when you're playing those teams."

James got plenty of help as Mo Williams scored 23 points, Delonte West 19 and Zydrunas Ilgauskas 17 for Cleveland. The Cavs have won 15 of their last 18 games against the Hawks.

Maurice Evans scored 21 points, Acie Law had 20 and Joe Johnson, who came in averaging 25.7, scored just four for the Hawks, who have lost five of seven after starting 6-0.

Johnson did not score in the second half and was hounded most of the night by the 6-foot-3 West, who gave up four inches to the Hawks' leading scorer.

"It was a tough night," he said.

Trailing 68-40 in the third, Atlanta whittled Cleveland's big lead to 11 when James came up with another of those rim-rattling, head-shaking slams.

Driving down the lane, James got a step on Al Horford, rose to the basket and dunked left handed over both Horford and Solomon Jones, making the pair of 6-foot-10, 245-pounders look like high schoolers. Later, James blasted to the basket, cocked the ball and powered it through with enough force to cause Evans to duck for cover.

"I've been on the opposite side of that," said West, who came to the Cavs in a trade last season. "I hope whoever is underneath doesn't try to be a hero and just gets out the way."

James and the Cavaliers have a busy week upcoming with four games in five days.

On Tuesday, they'll be in New York to face the Knicks where James will almost certainly have to address another round of questions about his future. James can become a free agent after the 2010 and already there is talk that he'll leave Cleveland for the Knicks or another major-market team.

"It doesn't bother me," James said before the game of the endless speculation. "If it bothered me I couldn't go out there and perform the way I do every night. It gets funny, but at the same time people need things to write about. I'm OK with it."

The Knicks cleared out considerable salary-cap space for '10 on Friday by trading Jamal Crawford to Golden State for Al Harrington and dealing Zach Randolph to the Los Angeles Clippers for Cuttino Mobley and Tim Thomas on Friday. That money could be used to sign James, who was amused that he was the player most talked about after the moves.

"I figured that would happen," he said. "They didn't even care about the guys that were coming to the Knicks. 2010 is a really big summer. It's two years away but time goes fast. We'll see what happens."

Notes

  • Free-agent pitcher CC Sabathia, still mulling a contract offer from the New York Yankees, attended the game. During halftime, Sabathia signed autographs for Cleveland fans, who wish he hadn't been traded and can only hope he would consider coming back.
  • The Cavs went 21 of 23 (91 percent) from the line.
  • Cavaliers F Wally Szczerbiak was back after missing one game to be with his father, Walt, who underwent open heart surgery this week. He finished with eight points and six points in 19 minutes.
  • Atlanta F Josh Smith missed his ninth straight game with a sprained left ankle.
  • Woodson played four games for the Cavs during the 1990-91 season and was an assistant coach in Cleveland from 1999-01.
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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It's something new every night with LeBron as the Cavs' bench goes nuts after a LBJ slam dunk.  (AP)
It's something new every night with LeBron as the Cavs' bench goes nuts after a LBJ slam dunk. (AP)

Scoreboard
Atlanta (8-5) 1220263896
Cleveland (10-3) «28213031110
ATL:M. Evans 21 Pts
ATL:A. Horford 9 Reb
ATL:A. Law 7 Ast
CLE:L. James 24 Pts
CLE:B. Wallace 8 Reb
CLE:L. James 8 Ast
Players of the Game
ClevelandAtlanta

L. James

A. Law
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
24782067
Atlanta
A. Horford, PF375-102-292512
J. Johnson, SG321-82-22534
M. Williams, SF285-111-273011
M. Bibby, PG234-90-011110
Z. Pachulia, C150-31-22011
M. Evans, SF308-131-130221
S. Jones, PF253-63-33039
A. Law, PG236-117-1067020
R. Murray, PG183-80-01016
M. West, SG70-10-22000
O. Hunter, SF21-10-01002
S. Claxton, PGDid Not Play
J. Smith, SFDid Not Play
R. Morris, CDid Not Play
T. Gardner, SGDid Not Play
Totals 36-8117-2437181696
 44.4%70.8% 
Cleveland
M. Williams, PG389-172-254123
L. James, SF378-197-778324
D. West, SG357-123-325219
Z. Ilgauskas, C327-123-470317
B. Wallace, C282-31-28015
W. Szczerbiak, SF193-31-16018
A. Varejao, C192-64-46218
D. Gibson, PG191-50-00132
J. Hickson, PF80-10-00020
L. Wright, C21-10-00002
S. Pavlovic, SG21-20-00012
T. Kinsey, SF20-00-00000
E. Snow, PGDid Not Play
J. Williams, FDid Not Play
D. Jackson, PFDid Not Play
Totals 41-8121-23412018110
 50.6%91.3% 
Other Games
Hou 100 Final
Orl 95
Mil 79 Final
Char 74
Ind 100 Final
Mia 109
LAC 95 Final
NJ 112
Wash 117 Final
NY 122
Utah 103 Final
Mem 94
OKC 97 Final
NO 109
Port 92 Final
Pho 102