Joe Johnson scored 27 points to lead five Atlanta scorers in double figures and the Hawks held off a late comeback to beat the Cavaliers 90-81 on Wednesday night for their first home win over Cleveland since 2003.
The Hawks ended a four-game losing streak and snapped Cleveland’s four-game winning streak, giving the Cavaliers their first loss in 2008.
The Hawks ended the Cavaliers’ six-game winning streak in Atlanta. The Cavaliers’ last loss in Atlanta was Nov. 22, 2003.
Cleveland allowed only 86.4 points per game while posting a 6-1 record since Dec. 25. The Cavaliers were strong defensively again but James, who had 31 points, was their only scorer with more than 12 points.
James, who also had 10 rebounds and six assists, scored 14 points in the fourth quarter — more than any teammate managed in the game.
Damon Jones followed James with 12 points on 5-for-13 shooting. Drew Gooden, with 10 points and 11 rebounds, was Cleveland’s only other scorer in double figures.
Josh Smith had 19 points and Marvin Williams and Josh Childress each added 12 for Atlanta. Rookie Al Horford had 10 points and 15 rebounds.
The Hawks led by 21 points late in the third quarter. Cleveland cut the lead to six points at 71-65 with 6:53 left on a basket by James. The Hawks pushed the lead back to 10 with back-to-back baskets by Smith and Johnson.
While the Hawks became tentative on offense in the final minutes, James and the Cavaliers kept charging. Jones’ 3-pointer with 2:30 left cut Atlanta’s lead to 77-72. Following a 24-second violation on Atlanta, Cleveland’s Gooden was called for traveling with 1:46 left, and Johnson scored on a driving layup with 1:25 left to end Cleveland’s momentum.
Johnson opened the second quarter with a spinning jumper to give Atlanta a 15-14 lead. Cleveland didn’t lead the rest of the game.
The Hawks stretched the lead to 13 at 46-33 with a 10-1 run to open the second half. Williams hit two jumpers and Smith drew three offensive fouls in the run.
Smith drew a charge on Gooden for Gooden’s fourth foul with 8:40 left in the third quarter. Gooden then drew a technical foul before heading to the Cleveland bench.
Cleveland went without a field goal until a tip-in by Zydrunas Ilgauskas with 7:20 left in the third quarter.