for this game

Johnson, Hawks end Cavs' win streak

Jan 10, 2008 - 4:09 AM By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- The Atlanta Hawks made sure that the Cleveland Cavaliers' four-game winning streak came to a grinding halt.

Joe Johnson scored 29 points and Josh Smith added 19 to lead the Hawks to a 90-81 win over the Cavaliers on Wednesday.

Marvin Williams scored 12 points and added eight rebounds and Josh Childress also chipped in 12 points for Atlanta, which snapped a four-game losing streak.

"It feels good," Johnson said. "To be a pretty good team in this league, you have to be able to secure home court. We did that tonight. It's good to have the winning feeling back. Now that we know how it feels, we can build another winning streak."

Atlanta opened the third quarter with a 25-8 run to put the game away. Johnson contributed six points and Smith added five during the run to lead the Hawks to their first victory in 2008.

Even the 6-foot-3 Anthony Johnson got into the act, energizing the lethargic Hawks crowd to its feet with a monstrous fast-break jam to cap the run and give the Hawks a 61-40 lead with 3:09 remaining.

The contest was one of redemption for Atlanta's lone 2007 All-Star Joe Johnson, who was held under 10 points in his last two games for the first time since the 2004 campaign. The 26-year old was markedly better in this one, shooting 47-percent (9-for-19) from the field and nailing a number of crucial buckets down the stretch.

"It was time for me to step up and make plays," Johnson said. "Every chance I got, I was trying to attack."

"Joe is an All-Star, he's our guy," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "He's supposed to step-up and make plays. I thought tonight, he made the big plays when we really needed it the most."

Cleveland looked more like the team that had struggled to an 18-18 record this season than the club that made it to the NBA Finals last season, shooting just 30-percent (20-for-67) from the field and committing 16 turnovers in the first three quarters.

"We took some bad shots in the third quarter, and that's been our Achilles heel all season," Cleveland superstar LeBron James said. "We knew this game was going to be decided in the third quarter, and unfortunately, we didn't play well."

The Cavs also started this one with a whimper, connecting on just 28-percent (13-for-46) from the field en route to collecting a season-low 32 first half points.

The Hawks were not much better, tallying just 36 points on 41-percent (15-for-37) shooting to take a four point lead into the break.

Cleveland had been down this road before, posting 33 points in the first half against the Toronto Raptors on Sunday before exploding for 60 points after the intermission to steal a game from the Raptors.

History did not repeat itself this time.

By the time James warmed up for his nightly fourth quarter explosion, it was too late.

"My mindset is always the same, which is to try to make plays and help my team win," James said. "When you're down so many points sometimes, no matter how many plays you make, if the other team can make one play, it's going to kill you. That kind of took the steam out of us."

Nevertheless, the Cleveland superstar, who erupted for a franchise record 24 points fourth-quarter points against Toronto, whittled away an Atlanta lead by scoring more points in the final quarter (14) than any of teammates tallied all night.

However, his late heroics were not enough to erase a 21-point deficit.

"We didn't want (LeBron) to get off (in the fourth quarter), so we tried to show some different strategies toward him," Smith said. "We trapped most of the game, and then we started switching and helping, and just scattering around the court to find the open man. It was a collective effort against him."

The three-time All-Star tallied 11 of his game-high 31 points in a 20-6 run bridging the final two periods, including a bucket to close the lead to six with 6:53 remaining in the fourth.

Atlanta regained a 10 point bulge before Devin Brown recorded a bucket and Damon Jones nailed a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 77-72 with 2:32 remaining and had a chance to cut the lead to three on their next possession.

But Drew Gooden was whistled for travelling and Joe Johnson drove the lane for a bucket for Atlanta to seal the victory.

"We knew (James) was going to make a run," Johnson said. "We needed to be aggressive. I wanted to be aggressive and attack the basket."

Rookie Al Horford tallied 10 points and grabbed a team-high 15 rebounds for Atlanta, which defeated the Cavs at home for the first time since November 22, 2003.

"I was not aware of that," said Horford, who was in high school the last time the club defended its home court against Cleveland. "We're trying to get out of those old memories. It's a new year, a new team."

Brazilian big man Anderson Varejao left the game in the fourth quarter with a left knee contusion after colliding with Horford on a fast break. He did not return.

  • NBA

    Jan 9 9:33 PM

  • NBA

    Jan 9 8:54 PM

  • NBA

    Jan 9 8:08 PM

  • NBA

    Jan 9 7:38 PM