Thu, Dec 31, 2009 - Page 19 News List

NBA: Cavaliers’ defense clips Hawks’ wings

‘LOCK DOWN’ Cleveland held the hosts to just 10 in the fourth in their first return to Atlanta since sweeping the Hawks in last season’s Eastern Conference semi-finals

REUTERS AND AP , ATLANTA, GEORGIA

The Cleveland Cavaliers used stingy defense and a fourth quarter burst to beat the Atlanta Hawks 95-84 on Tuesday and post their fifth straight win.

Mo Williams shot a team-high 20 points and LeBron James 14 with 10 assists and eight rebounds for the Cavaliers, who scored 10 unanswered points early in the fourth quarter and then choked the Hawks offense to coast to victory.

“That’s what we do. We lock down in the fourth quarter,” James told reporters after recording five steals. “That’s where games are decided. It was a complete team effort.”

Jamal Crawford scored 26 points off the bench, but the Hawks (21-9) were confined to just 10 in the final quarter as they became the Cavaliers’ third successive opponent to be restricted to less than 90 points.

Cleveland’s win follows blowout victories over top teams the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers during a successful Western Conference road trip of four stops.

The win was also their first return to Atlanta since sweeping the Hawks in last season’s Eastern Conference semi-finals.

Cleveland trailed for most of the first quarter, but pulled ahead midway through the second and then held the Hawks at bay until the pivotal fourth.

The Cavaliers smashed their opponents in the rebound count (43-30) and drew valuable contributions from Delonte West (17) and Zydrunas Ilgauskas (15) to make up for James’ sloppy 6-for-20 shooting from the field.

Joe Johnson and Josh Smith had 15 points apiece, but the Atlanta offense went missing in the fourth and were kept scoreless for nearly nine minutes.

“I don’t know how to even begin to explain it,” Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. “We didn’t execute. We threw the ball all over the place. Offensively we were our own worst nightmare.”

KNICKS 104, PISTONS 87

At Auburn Hills, Michigan, David Lee had a season-high 30 points and 12 rebounds as New York handed Detroit an eighth straight loss.

Wilson Chandler added 23 points and nine rebounds for the Knicks.

THUNDER 110, WIZARDS 98

At Washington, Kevin Durant had 35 points and 11 rebounds and Jeff Green added 18 points as Oklahoma City beat Washington for the team’s first four-game winning streak in three-and-a-half years.

It was the fifth straight game that Durant topped the 30-point mark. He has exceeded 30 points nine times in Oklahoma City’s 14 games this month.

The Thunder, who last won four straight in April 2006 when they were the Seattle SuperSonics, earned their ninth road victory of the season — one more than they had during last season, their first in Oklahoma City.

ROCKETS 108, HORNETS 100

At Houston, Texas, Aaron Brooks scored 27 points, and Luis Scola added 13 points and 12 rebounds as Houston overcame Chris Paul’s triple-double and David West’s career game in a win over Charlotte.

Paul had 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for his 11th career triple-double and first this season. West had 44 points and 12 rebounds, but the Hornets still slipped to 2-13 on the road this season.

Shane Battier scored 20 points and Carl Landry added 18 off the bench for the Rockets.

BULLS 104, PACERS 95

At Chicago, Derrick Rose scored 28 points as Chicago blew an early 19-point lead before recovering in the second half to beat Indiana.

Chicago’s second straight home victory could take some heat off coach Vinny Del Negro, whose job status has been the subject of much speculation after Chicago’s disappointing start (now 12-17).

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