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James takes over in fourth quarter as Cavs beat Hawks

Dec 2, 2006 - 3:18 AM ATLANTA (Ticker) -- LeBron James wasn't going to let this one get away.

James scored 13 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter as the Cleveland Cavaliers regrouped after blowing a big lead for a 106-95 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

"The fourth quarter is the best quarter to me," James said. "It's when you've got to execute. It's when I need to put my cape on and help our team win basketball games. If I'm going to be the leader of the team, that's when I need to be my best."

Damon Jones scored 15 points off the bench for the Cavaliers, who never trailed, shot 53 percent (42-of-78) from the field and won their fifth straight visit to Philips Arena.

On November 7, the Cavs suffered a home overtime loss to the Hawks in which they squandered a sizable lead with lackadaisical play against a lesser opponent. That has become a recurring problem this season, most recently in Wednesday's home loss to New York.

It was more of the same Friday as Cleveland wasted a 15-point lead late in the first half and found itself tied, 79-79, entering the final period.

"These guys came into our building and beat us, so we had to give a little bit of revenge back to them," James said.

James wasted no time taking charge, opening the fourth quarter with a three-point play that gave the Cavs the lead for good. The Hawks still were within 89-86 when James grabbed teammate Anderson Varejao's missed free throw and put it home with 7:34 left.

"His athleticism makes him make plays like that," Cavs center Zydrunas Ilgauskas said. "Those plays aren't plays that other people make."

The superstar swingman had a series of demoralizing baskets. He weaved through the defense for a three-point play and a 96-86 advantage, then beat the shot clock with a step-back jumper and completed another three-point play for a 104-92 bulge with 3:17 to go.

"When I'm in attack mode, the team kind of vibes off that," James said. "At one point, we took a lot of jump shots. But once I start attacking, the defense tends to shift and double-teams me."

"It was LeBron tonight. He pulled us through," forward Drew Gooden said. "(He had) put-backs and attacked the basket. That's something we talked about before the game. We told him he needed to do it. He did that tonight."

Eric Snow had 13 points and eight assists for the Cavaliers, who held a 42-32 edge in rebounds and survived 12 missed free throws.

Joe Johnson scored 31 points, Zaza Pachulia added 20 and 11 boards and Tyronn Lue 17 for the Hawks, who shot 45 percent (32-of-71) but lost for the seventh time in nine games.

Already without injured forward Marvin Williams and swingman Josh Childress, the Hawks lost forward Josh Smith to an eye injury in the second quarter.

"I'm concerned about having bodies," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "I'm missing Marvin, Chills (Childress), Speedy (guard Speedy Claxton) is at half-go and Josh Smith only played half the game. That's four key guys that are a big part of what we do."

In the first half, James scored 14 points and Snow added 10 and seven assists as the Cavs shot 58.5 percent (24-of-41) and opened a 62-52 lead. Johnson kept the Hawks in it with 19 points.

"We came out with a different intensity," Ilgauskas said. "Lately, we've been starting the game off a little slow."

But there were clear signs of the recent lazy play. The Cavaliers built a 13-point lead, allowed it to dip to seven, rebuilt it to 15 and gave away all of it in the third quarter.

Pachulia scored nine points in the period and two free throws by Johnson pulled Atlanta into a 77-77 tie with 27 seconds to go.

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