The Cavaliers held the Atlanta Hawks scoreless for almost nine minutes on route to a 95 – 84 win last night in Atlanta. The sellout crowd of 20,150 in attendance set a new Philips Arena regular-season record, generating a playoff-like atmosphere. Too bad they couldn’t help the Hawks put the ball in the basket.
LeBron James, despite being booed every time he touched the ball, notched a double-double with 14 points and 10 assists. Mo Williams and Delonte West led the Cavaliers (25-8) coming off the bench, combining for 37 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. Williams did have seven turnovers though in what Cavs coach Mike Brown called “an ugly win” for Cleveland.
“It was an ugly game, but you have to win ugly games. Defensively, in the second half, we were pretty good,” Coach Brown said. “Atlanta has been averaging over 100 points in this building and having their way with teams. So we’re happy about the way we handled them defensively tonight.”
Cleveland has held three straight opponents fewer than 90 points and also improved their record against teams over .500 to 15-3. Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 15 points off the bench for the Cavaliers, including a dramatic trey to put away the Hawks late in the fourth quarter.
The Cavaliers led 75-74 entering the final quarter and stretched the lead to 85-74 before Josh Smith finally ended the Hawks’ drought that lasted 8:48 by scoring with 3:12 remaining. The Hawks (21-9) were 0 for 10 from the field in the period before the basket.
Jamal Crawford led the Hawks with 26 points off the bench on 10 of 17 shooting from the field, including four 3 pointers. Joe Johnson, who averages 21.4 points, made only 5 of 14 shots from the field and scored only four points after his 11 point first quarter.
Both teams head north to Cleveland where they will face off again tonight. Cleveland gets a couple days off to celebrate the New Year before flying to New Jersey.
Notes: Ilgauskas passed Brad Daugherty for No. 2 on the Cavaliers all-time scoring mark during the game and now has 10,405 career points