LeBron scores 31, but other Cavs struggle in loss to Hawks

ATLANTA (AP) -- LeBron James had another big fourth quarter, but this time it wasn't enough.

James scored 14 of his 31 points in the final quarter, but Cleveland couldn't find enough scoring help for its seventh straight win in Atlanta.

Joe Johnson scored 29 points to lead a more balanced Atlanta attack, 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 good news-bad news bottom line for the Cavaliers: James scored more points in the fourth quarter than any other Cleveland player had in the game.

Damon Jones had 12 points on 5-for-13 shooting and Drew Gooden, with 10 points and 11 rebounds, was Cleveland's only other scorer in double figures.

Larry Hughes, who had five points on 2-for-11 shooting, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who had seven points, couldn't provide much scoring help even as the Hawks were focused on containing James.

"We didn't want him to get off in the fourth quarter, so we tried to show some different strategies toward him," said Atlanta's Josh Smith. "We trapped most of the game, and then we started switching and helping and just scattering around the court. It was a collective defensive effort against him."

The Hawks knew all about James' flair for big fourth quarters. On Jan. 2 in Cleveland, James had 19 in the final 12 minutes of the Cavaliers' 98-94 win over the Hawks. James then set the franchise record with 24 points in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 93-90 win at Toronto.

"He always comes up big in the fourth quarter for his team," said Hawks rookie Al Horford, who had 10 points and 15 rebounds.

While others talked about his fourth-quarter prowess, James focused on his team's sluggish third quarter when the Hawks outscored the Cavaliers 29-20.

"We took some bad shots in the third quarter, and that's been our Achilles' heel all season," James said. "We knew this game was going to be decided in the third quarter, and unfortunately we didn't play well."

Cleveland went without a field goal until a tip-in by Ilgauskas with 7:20 left in the third quarter.

Cleveland cut Atlanta's lead to 77-72 on a 3-pointer by Damon Jones with 2:30 left.

Following a 24-second violation on Atlanta, 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.

"When you're down so many points sometimes, no matter how many plays you make, if the other team can make one play it's going to kill you," James said.

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 (16-16), who won five straight before the losing streak, returned to .500 while the Cavaliers (18-18) fell back to .500.

"It doesn't really concern me," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said of his team's record. "But when we lose ball games where we don't play well, that concerns me."

The Hawks ended the Cavaliers' six-game winning streak in Atlanta. The Cavaliers' last loss in Atlanta was Nov. 22, 2003.

Smith had 19 points and Marvin Williams and Josh Childress each added 12 for Atlanta.

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.

The end of the Cavaliers' field-goal drought didn't end the Hawks' surge. Atlanta answered with another 15-5 run, capped by an unlikely tomahawk jam by Anthony Johnson for a 61-40 lead with 3:13 left in the quarter.

The Cavaliers recovered for a 10-2 run to finish the quarter and cut the Atlanta lead to 65-52.

Game notes
Cleveland F Anderson Varejao left the court with 9:16 left in the fourth quarter with a bruised left knee and a strained left Achilles'. He fell to the floor after a collision with Horford. No foul was called. Varejao limped off the court and was escorted to the Cleveland locker room. He did not return. ... Hawks C Zaza Pachulia was inactive with a sore toe. ... The game was Brown's 200th as a head coach. He fell to 118-82.