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News » PRO BASKETBALL 2008-12-14


Gaze at LeBron James long enough and it's easy to forget that the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar plays with four other guys on the floor at all times.

The Hawks locked onto James from the start Saturday night at Philips Arena --- like everyone else in the sold-out crowd of 19,200, it seemed like they were waiting to witness the NBA's self-proclaimed "King" put on a show.

They almost stared too long, allowing James and his crew back into a game that had the makings of a rout early.

But the Hawks held on late, getting a huge block from Josh Smith, a critical offensive rebound from Al Horford, and a desperation rebound and free throws from Marvin Williams, all in the final 45 seconds, to hold on for a 97-92 victory, their eighth in nine home games this season.

The win also snapped the Cavaliers' 11-game win streak, a stretch that began with a 110-96 win over the Hawks on Nov. 22 in Cleveland.

"This was a big, big win for us," Horford said. "Especially after they came back and took the lead on us in the fourth quarter. But our guys made some big shots down the stretch when we needed to. When we needed them, Mike [Bibby] and Joe [Johnson] stepped up and made the shots for us."

A game the Hawks led by as many as 14 points early turned into a possession game in the fourth quarter, with James slicing through the Hawks for points and flashy passes to wide-open teammates and Johnson answering on the other end with big plays of his own.

With the Hawks trailing 89-90 with two minutes to play, Bibby drained a 29-footer for a 92-90 lead.

Johnson added a baseline jumper a minute later, and the Hawks had the lead for good.

The defensive stops and rebounds in the final 45 seconds served as the icing on the homecoming cake for the Hawks, who returned from a brutal four-game road trip early Saturday morning and kicked off their eight-game homestand 15 hours later.

"It's definitely a big win for us," said Bibby, who led all five Hawks starters in double figures with 24 points, six rebounds and five assists. "They're one of the best teams in the league. We came out and just showed how good we can be when we help each other out defensively."

James finished with a game-high 33 points, nine assists and six rebounds. Mo Williams added 26.

But the Hawks (14-9) did a solid job holding the Cavs down for most of the night. The Hawks limited the Cavs to just 41 percent shooting from the floor (34-for-82), won the rebounding battle (40-36) and bashed James and his crew in transition, winning the fast-break points battle 20-9.

"You knew they were going to make a run," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "We hung right in there, and made play after play, and kind of matched them. For every great play they made, we made a great play on the other end. I'm just proud of our locker room and the fact that they defended tonight again and we rebounded the ball as a group. It was a total team effort."

Both teams were coming off a stretch of four games in five nights, and the fatigue for several players was obvious from the start. Johnson made his first two shots but played the role of decoy until the fourth quarter, when he scored 11 of his 17 points.

"I can't lie, I was exhausted," said Johnson, admitting that defending Dwayne Wade in a win in Miami on Friday drained him.

"I just felt a little sluggish coming into the game. I was just being patient. And they were doing a lot of double-teams, and I was just trying to find the open guy and get other guys into the rhythm.

"I thought Mike got into a good rhythm, Marvin knocked down a couple shots and were just making plays. And in the fourth quarter I knew I had to be the aggressor, and it worked out."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: December 14, 2008


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