for this game

James, Cavaliers blast lowly Hawks

Apr 15, 2007 - 5:32 AM CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- The playoff-bound Cleveland Cavaliers wasted little time in this one.

All-Star LeBron James scored 23 points and Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 14 and 11 rebounds as the Cavaliers coasted to a 110-76 triumph over the lowly Atlanta Hawks.

Sasha Pavlovic had 15 points and two steals and Larry Hughes scored 13 for Cleveland (48-32), which moved into a tie with idle Chicago (48-32) for second place in the Eastern Conference standings.

"We want to win, but I want to make sure we go into the playoffs playing the right way," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. "I thought we played the right way."

"The sense of urgency has picked up," Cleveland guard Eric Snow said. "Everyone understands the playoffs are coming. The two seed is important because if you happen to play Chicago, you'll have home court. We'll just have to win our two games and see what happens."

With an 11-point lead after the first quarter, the Cavaliers continued to pull away in the second behind an impressive 23-8 surge to open the period to make it 51-25 at the 1:28 mark.

James' 16 first-half points helped Cleveland hold a 28-point edge at intermission. The Cavaliers shot 52 percent (22-of-42) from the field in the first half.

Cleveland was never challenged after halftime en route to winning its third consecutive season series, 3-1, against Atlanta.

"It was one of our most complete games because we were able to maintain the lead that we had," James said. "We know how important these games are, but more importantly, we have to continue to get better every day heading into the playoffs."

High-flying Josh Smith had 23 points and seven boards and rookie Shelden Williams chipped in 13 and 11 for Atlanta, which shot 42 percent (30-of-71) and has lost 12 straight road games.

Smith returned from a two-game suspension after his on-court verbal attack at Hawks coach Mike Woodson.

"I had to get my rhythm back," Smith said. "Unfortunately, we couldn't get a win too, but it felt good to get back out there on the court and clear my head from all that other stuff."

Atlanta is without five of its top eight scorers, including All-Star Joe Johnson (calf) and Josh Childress (foot fracture).

"We have no chemistry at all because of all the injuries we've had," Woodson said. "I don't know how many different lineups that we've had over the course of the season. From a coach's standpoint, I've just got to stay upbeat with these guys playing hard."

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