Final Dime: Cavaliers 93, Hawks 88
J.J. Hickson grabbed a career-high 16 boards in Friday's win over Atlanta.
David Liam Kyle
And for the second straight game, Cleveland sparred for the balance of four quarters before hitting the gas down the stretch – blowing past the Hawks, 93-88, on Friday night at The Q.
Friday night’s victory was the Cavaliers’ 10th straight home win and their 60th on the season.
The Cavaliers actually trailed by a deuce – 76-74 – midway through the fourth quarter. But Mo Williams’ runner tied the affair one possession later. After an Antawn Jamison block, LeBron scored on a runner to put the Cavaliers up by two. He and Mo followed that up with a pair of three-pointers to give Cleveland all the breathing room they’d need.
“I thought that our guys did a great job of bringing the juice tonight; bringing the energy, effort and focus,” praised Coach Mike Brown. “The energy that we brought was terrific.”
The dynamic duo of Mo and LeBron – which led the NBA in combined scoring last season – combined for 51 of the Cavaliers’ 93 points, with James leading both teams with six assists and Williams leading with a career-high four blocked shots.
LeBron went 11-for-20 from the floor, notching 18 of his 27 points in the second half. The reigning MVP added 13 boards, six assists and a pair of steals.
Williams added 24 points on 7-for-14 shooting, going a perfect 7-for-7 from the stripe to go with four boards, two assists and a steal.
The Cavaliers had three scorers in double-figures – (Antawn Jamison added a dozen points) – and also three players in double-figure rebounds. Big Z grabbed 10 boards off the bench, LeBron snagged 13 and J.J. Hickson set a career-high with 16 boards – seven on the offensive glass.
“We think about winning championships,” said Hickson, following the win. “All the other stuff goes out the window. We only have one goal in mind. It’s that gold ball.”
Overall, the Wine and Gold out-rebounded Atlanta by almost 20 boards – 55-36. Both teams shot 41 percent from the floor, but the Cavaliers took 13 more free throws, making good on 75 percent of them.
With just six games remaining, the Cavaliers travel to Boston on Easter Sunday for an afternoon battle with the Celtics. When they return, three of their final five games are at The Q.
2. With the combination of Friday’s win over Atlanta and Orlando’s loss to San Antonio, the Cavaliers have clinched the best record in the Eastern Conference for the second straight season.
3. J.J. Hickson, who set a new career rebounding mark on Friday – has improved through almost every month of the season. In December, he averaged 6.5 ppg, 6.3 in January, 10.3 in February and 11.7 ppg in March.
4. The Cavaliers have now won nine straight over the Hawks.
5. Winners of ten straight at The Q, the Cavaliers have now won 32 of their last 34 home games. Over the last two seasons, the Cleveland is an NBA-best 73-6 (.924) at home.
6. Anderson Varejao missed his third straight game with a sore left hamstring.
7. Despite the Cavs’ recent woes from the line, Mo Williams continues his rock-solid production. He ranks fifth in the NBA in free throw shooting at 163-181 (.900). As a Cavalier, he’s at .905 from the stripe, second all-time in team history behind only Mark Price (.906).
8. The Cavaliers are now a perfect 11-0 in Friday and Saturday games at The Q this season.
9. With 6:04 remaining in the ballgame, Antawn Jamison left the game with a left shoulder stinger and didn’t return. The injury didn’t appear serious as Jamison joined his teammates on the Cavs bench moments after returning from the locker room. Over his last five games, Jamison is averaging 17.0 points and 9.6 rebounds per contest.
10. The Wine and Gold are only the ninth NBA franchise to have back-to-back 60-win seasons. And it’s only the 18th time in NBA history that a team has won 60 games in consecutive seasons.
“The back-to-back 60 wins means that you’re playing really, really good basketball on the road,” observed LeBron. “There are a lot of good home teams, and we’re one of the best that the league has ever seen in its history, but to be able to have back-to-back 60 win seasons is great.”