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
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," coach Mike Woodson said. "You've
got to play. We did a lot of good things, then we just ran out of
The last time Cleveland had 30 wins before the All-Star break
was 1992-93, when the Cavs made it to the Eastern Conference
semifinals. The Cavs reached the 30-win 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 wins 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
Antoine Walker had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Hawks, who
lost their 15th straight road game.
Drew Gooden had 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Cavs, and
Ilgauskas tied Michael Cage's 1996 club mark for offensive boards
by playing volleyball above and around the Hawks' basket.
"A lot of them were my own misses," Ilgauskas said. "I missed
some easy shots and got some tip-ins. We knew that we had a size
advantage over them and we capitalized on that."
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
"They usually let that one go," James said.
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 left, giving Silas a
chance to rest some of his starters for Thursday night's game at
The Cavs didn't get win No. 30 last season until March 14,
when they were 30-36. They finished 35-47. ... James will appear in
a new Sprite commercial debuting during Sunday's All-Star game. He
has a multimillion dollar endorsement deal with the soft-drink
giant. ... The Hawks have lost seven straight to Cleveland. ...
Cavs reserve C DeSagana Diop finished with six points, eight
rebounds and five blocks in 15 minutes. Silas said Diop is in the
rotation -- for now. ... Silas won't be upset if James skips the
dunk event in Denver. "He's playing in the rookie game and the
All-Star game already," Silas said. "And they're going to have
him doing everything. He's not going to get any rest." ... Hawks
rookie Josh Smith, who was already set to play in the Rookie
Challenge, was picked Wednesday to be in the dunk contest. He got
in some practice with a vicious slam in the first half off a steal.
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