for this game

Hawks end Cavaliers' record winning streak

Dec 14, 2008 - 4:02 AM By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Not even LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers' franchise record-tying 11-game winning streak could stand in the way of the Atlanta Hawks at home.

Mike Bibby scored 24 points and Marvin Williams added 19, including three crucial free throws down the stretch, leading the Hawks to a 97-92 victory over the red-hot Cavaliers on Saturday night at Philips Arena.

Joe Johnson poured in 11 of his 17 points in the final frame and Josh Smith added 12 and blocked a key shot in the final minute for Atlanta, which improved to 8-1 at home this season.

"It's definitely a big win for us," Bibby said. "They're one of the best teams in the league. We came out and just showed how good we can be when we help each other defensively."

James had 33 points and nine assists and Mo Williams added 26 points for Cleveland, which saw its impressive streak come to a screeching halt.

"You can't win them all," James said. "We didn't expect to win every last game and go 79-3. ... We played hard, it was just a matter that they got more stops at the end than we did."

The Cavaliers, who have won 11 straight five separate times in franchise history, have lost just twice in their last 21 games.

"It just means we have to start another one," Cavs guard Mo Williams said of the ending of the streak. "We lost our (12th) game (of the season) and won 11 straight. The good thing about when a streak ends, another one can start."

The Hawks have been virtually unbeatable at home ever since the club took all three home games against the world champion Boston Celtics in their first-round matchup in last year's playoffs.

They have won 10 of their last 11 here entering the contest against the red-hot Cavs. Conversely, Cleveland had won 19 of 20 games after starting the season at 1-2.

But there's no beating the Hawks at home this season even if you are playing with "The King."

"I think we have made it know that we are a team to be reckoned with," Smith said. "Teams are not going to walk all over us. ... In past years, we would have folded against a team that came back against us. We came back with a vengeance and knew that we weren't going to lose."

James - who spent part of Friday night at "The Velvet Room," a popular Atlanta-area nightclub - willed his team back into this one, scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of free throws to give Cleveland a 90-89 lead with 2:32 remaining.

But Bibby drained a big 3-pointer to put Atlanta up two 11 seconds later before James misfired on the other end of the floor.

Johnson followed with a post-up jumper with two seconds remaining on the shot clock to give Atlanta a 94-90 lead with 1:40 remaining before James waltzed through the lane for an easy layup with 91 seconds left.

Atlanta hunkered down the rest of the way.

Smith emphatically rejected Delonte West's 3-point offering, swatting the ball deep into the stands with one second left on the clock. Cleveland failed to get a shot off after the inbounds pass, forcing a turnover.

"I just had to keep coming," Smith said of the acrobatic block - his only swat of the game. "I couldn't let him get an easy look."

Bibby missed a long jumper, but Horford tapped the rebound out to Marvin Williams, who was quickly fouled and split a pair free throws to give the Hawks a 95-92 lead with 18 seconds left. Cleveland had two chances to tie it, but Williams and West misfired from 3-point range.

Marvin Williams secured the rebound and drained two foul throws for the final margin of victory. Cleveland's streak was no more.

"It's a great game for us to win," Johnson said. "They won 11 straight. For us to come in and take care of home court was great."

The Cavaliers, who finished a stretch of four games in five nights, played their second straight contest

The Hawks, who also finished a stretch of four games and over five nights, came out with a little more energy. Atlanta dominated Cleveland through most of the first three periods, holding James to just five points in the second and third quarters.

Bibby was hitting 3-pointers. When he wasn't, he was finding Smith for a monstrous two-handed alley-oop jam to give Atlanta a 64-50 lead with 5:11 remaining the third.

But Cleveland awoke from its slumber, scoring 16 of the next 20 points in the third quarter to cut the lead to 68-66 at the break and opened the fourth with consecutive buckets by Sasha Pavlovic and Anderson Varejao to give the club its first lead since the first quarter.