LeBron James carried Cleveland to 97-82 Game Three win over Atlanta at Philips Arena ... James finished the night with 47 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists.
The Cavaliers led by as many as 9 points in the first quarter before the Hawks started the second stanza on a 10-2 run to claim the lead ... Cleveland came back again and held a 47-46 advantage at the break.
Josh Smith led the Hawks in the first half with 12 points ... Joe Johnson and Flip Murray each had 10 ... LeBron James led all scorers with 22.
The teams traded runs in the third quarter with the Cavs eventually pushing their lead to 72-65.
The Hawks hit 7-11 FTs on the night while Cleveland was 21-29 from the charity stripe ... James was 12-16 alone from the foul line.
Cleveland won the battle of boards 46-23 ... James' 12 rebounds were a game-high and Anderson Varejao grabbed 10 caroms.
Joe Johnson led the Hawks with 21 points and 5 rebounds ... Josh Smith added 18 and 5 boards, and Flip Murray scored 17 off the bench.
The Cavs had only six players score, led by James' 47 ... Zydrunas Ilgauskas (14), Delonte West (12) and Mo Williams (11) also hit double-figures.
Game Four is set for Monday at Philips Arena (7 p.m. TNT, 790 The Zone).
Lang Whitaker's Three Things
the first time in this series, the Hawks
opened the game with effort either equaling
or excelling that of the Cavs. Even though
Cleveland led through two quarters, 47-46,
the Hawks forced 5 turnovers and had double
the offensive rebounds (6 to 3). Even in the
second half, after Zaza Pachulia was
bizarrely ejected by referee Bill Spooner
for complaining about a missed blocking
foul, and after the Hawks saw a series calls
go against them on their home court, the
Hawks continued to play hard and drive to
the basket. More importantly, they defended
the rim better than they have in any game
2. If John Thompson had been
announcing this game, he'd have said over
and over that Joe Johnson is a warrior.
(Well, he would have said "wah-yuh." Even
after he was taken off the court in Game Two
in a wheelchair, Joe returned tonight to
play 46 minutes and score 21 points. Joe
also defended LeBron James for the majority
of the game and, when he was able to avoid
having to switch on a pick against Bron, he
did a respectable job against King James.
3. LeBron James was recently named
the most valuable player in the NBA. So he's
good, right? Well, when the Cavs control the
tempo of the game, as they did in the second
half tonight, LeBron is able to pretty much
have his way with the Hawks. The Hawks have
an unwavering team philosophy of switching
on picks. Knowing that, LeBron orchestrated
match-ups over and over against an
overmatched Mike Bibby. LeBron finished with
47 points, 12 boards and 8 assists. (The
rest of the Cavs combined for 50 points and
7 assists.) For the Hawks to have any chance
to win Game Four and take this series back
to Cleveland, they've got to do a better job
keeping the ball out of LeBron's hands.
Which is easier said than done.