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NBA Cavs hit 30-win mark by break



Published: Thu, February 17, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



LeBron James led the way with 28 points.

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Sometimes reaching 30 isn't scary, a reason to get a tattoo or to stop counting.

The Cleveland Cavaliers hit the big 3-0 without any regrets.

LeBron James scored 28 points, fellow All-Star Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 18 and the Cavaliers got to 30 wins before the All-Star break for just the fourth time with a 111-89 victory over the undermanned Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.

James, who finished with six assists and five rebounds in 38 minutes, was among the very few who thought it possible for the Cavaliers to win so many games so quickly.

"My goal was 30 [by the break]," James said. "But you know me, I expect us to win every night. What did we win last year, 35? Our next goal is to make the playoffs and to get home-court advantage."

Exhausted Hawks

Ilgauskas added 13 rebounds, including a club record-tying 12 on offense, as the Cavaliers completed a four-game season sweep of the Hawks (10-41), who dressed just nine players and were exhausted in the second half after playing on Tuesday.

"That's life in the NBA," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "You've got to play. We did a lot of good things, then we just ran out of juice."

The last time Cleveland had 30 victories before the All-Star break was 1992-93, when the Cavs made it to the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Cavs reached the 30-victory plateau in advance of the All-Star game in 1991-92 and 1988-89 -- also playoff seasons.

Before this season, Cavs coach Paul Silas would have settled for 23 or 24 victories by now.

"I felt if we could be around .500, I would be ecstatic," he said. "This team has exceeded my expectations. It's a credit to these guys, because they've listened, they've learned and now it's coming together."

Antoine Walker had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Hawks, who lost their 15th consecutive road game.

Ties club record

Drew Gooden had 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Cavs, and Ilgauskas tied Michael Cage's 1996 club mark for offensive rebounds by playing volleyball above and around the Hawks' basket.

The Cavaliers didn't have the Hawks under wraps until midway through the third period. Jeff McInnis hit a 3-pointer to put Cleveland ahead 66-56, triggering a 12-4 run that included a slam dunk by James, who also had one taken away.

All alone on a breakaway, James, who has not yet publicly announced if he'll compete in Saturday's All-Star dunk contest, got carried away and ran with the ball before taking off. He wheeled around with a surprised look when referee Bernie Fryer called him for traveling.

Moments later, James dunked off a feed from McInnis and Sasha Pavlovic's 3-pointer made it 71-58. The Cavaliers kept attacking and extended their lead to 18 when Pavlovic flipped the ball behind his back to a breaking Gooden, who dunked and finished off a three-point play to make it 84-66.

James drained a pair of 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter as the Cavaliers built a 99-74 lead with 8:44 remaining, giving Silas a chance to rest some of his starters for Thursday night's game at Minnesota.




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