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Cavaliers get back on track against Hawks

Dec 28, 2006 - 4:28 AM ATLANTA (Ticker) -- The Cleveland Cavaliers found the perfect place to end their struggles away from home.

LeBron James scored 27 points as the Cavaliers defeated the Atlanta Hawks, 89-76, to snap a four-game road losing streak.

Cleveland entered 3-8 on the road this season and had not won away from home since beating the Hawks here on December 1.

Larry Hughes scored 17 points and Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 16 and 10 rebounds as the Cavaliers won for the sixth consecutive time on the Hawks' home court. Atlanta last beat Cleveland at Philips Arena on November 22, 2003.

"We know we're a better team on the road than we have been showing," James said. "It doesn't matter who you're playing. This team has beaten us before. We didn't take them lightly. We just came in and executed, and that's how we got a win."

James scored 12 points in the opening quarter to help stake the Cavs to a 28-18 lead.

The Hawks, who dropped their fifth straight game, never got close to going ahead despite the return of Zaza Pachulia, Speedy Claxton and Josh Childress from injuries.

One of the reasons was another sub-par outing from leading-scorer Joe Johnson, who was held to a season-low 10 points.

"It was good having (Childress) back in a uniform," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "But we have to start practicing and trying to get some chemistry. I didn't think we had that tonight. You hold this team to 89 points, you feel pretty good about that. But Joe (Johnson) finally hit a wall tonight, going 4-for-17, something he hadn't done all year."

"They played great defense tonight," Johnson said. "It seemed like every time I drove to the basket, there was another guy collapsing (in the lane)."

Cleveland extended the lead to 50-37 at the half behind 19 points from James, but Atlanta got within 56-50 on a long 3-pointer by Claxton midway through the third. Hughes answered with a shot from the arc as the Cavs kept the lead in double digits, 66-56, entering the final period.

"We did a great job defensively as a team and individually," Ilgauskas said. "(Joe Johnson) missed a lot of open looks, but he also had to take a lot of difficult shots due to our defense. He has a lot of guys in his face, but that's one of the reasons that we won, holding him to 10 points."

The Hawks made one last run, closing within 72-64 with 7:53 to play, but the Cavaliers answered with an 8-0 spurt and never were threatened thereafter.

"A win is a win, whether it's at home or on the road," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "We had a big enough lead to go on runs at different point in the ballgame to keep that separation. When we're on the road, we can't lose focus, no matter who we are playing."

Pachulia scored 22 points and Claxton added 11 with a career-high eight steals, which also is a league best this season.

"I'd trade it in for a win in a heartbeat," Claxton said of the steals. "You play this game to win, not for personal stats."

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