Post mortem: Cavs 95, Hawks 84
If you want to talk about winning ugly, you have but to look at this particular game. LeBron James had one of his worst nights of the season, but his teammates (Mo Wiliams with 20 points and Delonte West with 17) picked up the slack.
If you were looking for offensive ecstasy? Wrong game. Wrong night. Although the Cavs shot close to 50 percent on the night, 20 turnovers that led to 17 Hawks points kept Atlanta in the game.
Defensively? They were typically brilliant, especially for an 8:31 stretch where they held the Hawks without a bucket. They weren't beacons of offensive brilliance themselves, however. They hit just 32 percent in the fourth quarter.
The one thing that struck me watching this game was that it felt like a playoff atmosphere to at least one team. The Hawks, who the Cavs swept out of the Eastern Conference semis last spring, were definitely up for the game, but the Cavs maintained the calm, cool demeanor of who they are - a veteran ballclub with young talent. With James struggling, his teammates didn't panic. What they all did was ratchet up the defense.
After allowing Jamal Crawford to light them up for 24 points in the first three quarters, they held him pt just two in the final one.
First half: No defense from either team as the Hawks shoot 51 percent to the Cavs' 64 percent. Thus far the Cavs are killing the Hawks on the boards 19-12, including winning the offensive rebound battle. Mo Williams continues to shoot at a torrid pace for the Cavaliers hitting 5-of-6 shots for 15 points. But the Hawks are in this game because of a familiar Cavs problem: turnovers. They have 11 of them thus far, leading to 13 Hawks points.
Game: Cavs (24-8) vs. Atlanta Hawks (21-8)
TV: FSOhio Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM).
Starters: Cavs: LeBron James (F); J.J. Hickson(F); Shaquille O'Neal (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G). Hawks: Marvin Williams (F); Josh Smith (F); Al Horford (C); Joe Johnson (G); Mike Bibby (G).
Cavs: Leon Powe (left knee surgery) - OUT. Hawks: Joe Smith (dislocated thumb) - PROBABLE.
Officials: Bob Delaney, Rodney Mott, Leroy Richardson.