NBA Game Summary - Atlanta at Cleveland
(Friday, April 2nd)
Final Score: Cleveland 93, Atlanta 88
Cleveland, OH (Sports Network) - LeBron James shook off a slow start to score 18 of his 27 points in the second half and simply took over down the stretch to lead Cleveland in a 93-88 triumph over Atlanta to clinch the Eastern Conference's top seed for the playoffs.
James added 13 rebounds and six assists, and after shooting 3-for-7 in the first half, scored nine points during a game-defining 14-0 run that obliterated a two-point Hawks lead with 6 1/2 minutes to play.
Mo Williams provided the other five points in the surge and ended with 24. J.J. Hickson secured a game-high 16 rebounds for Cleveland, which has won 10 in a row at home and reached the 60-win plateau for a second straight season.
The Central Division champs took their magic number for clinching the East's best record to one with the win, then waited on Orlando's eventual 112-100 loss in San Antonio to celebrate.
Josh Smith paced the Hawks with 20 points, Jamal Crawford scored 17 off the bench and Marvin Williams recorded 15 with seven boards.
Al Horford and Joe Johnson each had 13 points for Atlanta, which remained a game ahead of Boston for the third seed in the East. The Celtics lost to Houston in overtime Friday.
The Hawks also benefited from Orlando's loss, staying 4 1/2 games back in the race for a Southeast Division crown.
The Cavaliers entered the fourth quarter with a three-point edge before the Hawks went in front on a Johnson basket four minutes in. Two Horford free throws with 6:43 on the clock netted a 76-74 advantage leading into the Cavs' game-changing stretch.
Williams kicked it off with a runner, James followed suit and popped for a three-pointer over Horford with 4 1/2 minutes left for an 81-76 game. Williams then sank a three-ball from the left corner and James capped the run with a theft of Crawford, running the floor to throw down an authoritative slam for a sudden 88-76 difference with 1:27 to play.
"I was able to go in with the score tied and get a layup, come back, was able to knock down a three. Mo was able to knock down a three also, and that kind of opened the game up," James said.
A last-ditch surge by the Hawks fell short with the clock working against them.
"He made plays, he made his shots and we didn't make ours," said Hawks head coach Mike Woodson of James. "Shots that we normally make, we had good looks, but they didn't go down."
The game was tied at 23-all after 12 minutes and Cleveland held a 49-46 edge at the break after James' three-point play closed the half.
After a tightly contested third quarter, the Cavaliers held a 69-66 lead.
The Cavs have taken 32 of their last 34 bouts at Quicken Loans Arena...Antawn Jamison scored 12 points for Cleveland but suffered a stinger in his left shoulder late in the game and did not return...Cavs forward Anderson Varejao missed his third consecutive game with a sore left hamstring...Atlanta is riding a four-game road losing streak and owns a 17-20 ledger away from home this season...Cleveland has won the first three meetings with Atlanta this season and five straight overall...These two teams will play on the last day of the regular season in Atlanta...Cleveland is 17-2 in its last 19 games, while Atlanta has won 12 of its last 18 games overall.
04/03 03:25:43 ET