Turns out the loss Wednesday night in Detroit wasn't a precursor to a Cavalier collapse. Maybe instead of the Pistons game being a critical indicator of where the team stands amongst the NBA elite it was simply a loss to a quality team on their court after having played a ballgame the night before.
There was no hangover Saturday night at ‘The Q'. The Cavs ran out to leads of 9-0 and 15-2 on their way to a 110-96 win over the Hawks.
Again it was a combination of ball movement, penetration and solid outside shooting that got the Cavs a lead they never relinquished. And if that wasn't enough the Cavs threw down some suffocating defense in the first half, holding Atlanta to 33% shooting and only 32 points, that allowed them to put it basically on cruise control after the intermission.
Most of the damage in the opening half was done without the scoring assistance of LeBron James. James scored five points in the first two quarters and seemed to be content with watching Mo Williams and Delonte West do most of the scoring damage. James also took particular interest in making sure Ben Wallace was fed enough touches to keep him interested and active on the defensive end and Big Ben responded with a couple crowd-pleasing dunks that energized the building.
On the night James did end up leading the Cavs in scoring with 24 points. He also grabbed 7 rebounds and handed out 8 assists. The nightly James highlight came late in the game after Atlanta had pulled within 11 when he went to the rim with purpose and threw down a wicked right-handed dunk that choked off any Hawks momentum.
Mo Williams added 23 points and 5 assists while Delonte West chipped in 19. Big Z also went for 17 points and 7 boards.
The Hawks were led by Maurice Evans and Acie Law who scored 21 and 20 points respectively off the Atlanta bench.
Same applies for Z and Ben and the others. Giving these guys a blow and saving what's left in the tank for when you really need it is an advantage the Cavs haven't had going to into the playoffs the last couple years.
They Got Next
The Cavs get a couple nights off to enjoy the win over the Hawks. On Tuesday they head to the Big Apple to visit the Knocks. New York is in the process of cutting some fat from their bloated roster but they are currently 7-6 on the season.
Get ready for the LBJ to NY talk for a good week.