for this game

Shorthanded Cavaliers derail Hawks

Feb 9, 2008 - 5:35 AM By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) - With two of its starters out and LeBron James bothered by a sore right thumb, the Cleveland Cavaliers' reserves came up huge down the stretch.

James shook off the remnants of the thumb injury to pour in 26 points and Ira Newble chipped in 18 against his former team to lead the shorthanded Cavaliers to a 100-95 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 17 points and Damon Jones tallied five of his 13 down the stretch for Cleveland, which has won 15 of its last 18 against Atlanta.

"This is a big win for us," James said. "Everybody had to step up tonight. Tonight, we knocked down our shots and played well on the defensive end, which was the key to the game."

The Cavs have been decimated by injuries of late, playing without starters Daniel Gibson and Drew Gooden.

To add insult to injury, the NBA's top scorer, James, tweaked his right thumb in Thursday's loss to the Houston Rockets.

Cleveland needed a stellar performance from their bench, which already was thin with Anderson Varejao and Sasha Pavlovic sitting out with injuries.

Despite playing without four of their top seven scorers, Jones and the Cavaliers' reserves came up huge down the stretch.

"Obviously, we got lifts from everybody throughout the course of the ballgame," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "This was a real good road win for us."

With the contest tied at 89-89, Jones drained a jumper and 3-pointer to give Cleveland a 94-89 lead with 2:50 remaining.

"Damon Jones hit a big shot in the corner," Atlanta forward Josh Smith said. "That kind of made the game a wrap from there."

Marvin Williams and James traded buckets before Josh Smith cut the lead to 96-93 with a dunk with 1:09 remaining.

The Hawks had a chance to cut the lead to one, but its All-Star Joe Johnson missed a mid-range jumper. James grabbed the rebound and found Newble on the other end of the floor for a dunk with 17 seconds remaining to extend the cushion back to five.

James drained two free throws with nine seconds remaining to ice the victory.

"We're going to have injuries, you have to be ready for them," said James, who spoke with reporters with his right hand bandaged in ice and both feet in an ice bucket after the game. "Guys came in and stepped up. That's what happens when guys go down."

James, who got off to a rough start and collected just 10 points on 5-for-13 shooting, finished strong, tallying 10 points in the third quarter and finishing with 26 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.

"Obviously, LeBron was LeBron tonight, which is score, rebound and dish out assists," Brown said of his four-time All-Star.

Atlanta, which was a respectable 15-9 at home this season but a miserable 6-15 on the road, donned their blue road jerseys to give their fans a rare look at their away uniforms. The Hawks has donned the road blues at home once before since changing their look at the beginning of the campaign - in their December 19 contest against the Miami Heat.

Atlanta originally won that contest in overtime, but Miami protested the victory, complaining that the Hawks official scorer erroneously assessed the now-traded Shaquille O'Neal a sixth foul. Commissioner David Stern agreed, stripped Atlanta of the win and ordered that the two clubs replay the last 51.9 seconds of the overtime on March 8.

Maybe the Hawks should have stuck with the home whites instead for this one, too.

The Cavs took control with an 11-3 run midway through the second period. Ilgauskas scored four during the spurt and Larry Hughes added seven, including a 3-pointer with 3:51 remaining in the second period to give Cleveland a 53-42 lead.

The Cavaliers led by as many as 14 in the third quarter before Atlanta fought its way back into the game with a 16-4 run to start the fourth quarter.

Smith, who scored seven points during the spurt, capped the run with a two-handed dunk and drained a free throw on the three-point play to give Atlanta an 85-84 lead with 7:18 remaining.

"In the fourth quarter we got off to a good start, fell back and got back in the game, even eventually led," Johnson said. "We just didn't come up with key stops at the end and key plays on the offensive end to win the game."

"We had a period where we couldn't score, but give them credit," Newble said. "They picked up their defense to make the game close. But, we picked up our defense and did what we were supposed to do offensively and came out with a win."

Johnson scored 23 and Williams added 21 for the Hawks, who lost the season set to the Cavs for the fifth consecutive season.

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