Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - LeBron James poured in 47 points, and the Cavaliers moved to the brink of sweeping their Eastern Conference semifinal series with a 97-82 win over the Atlanta Hawks.
James made half of his 10 three-point shots and also had 12 rebounds and eight assists. The league MVP finished a point off his playoff career-best, set May 31, 2007 against the Pistons.
"When it's all said and done, and you think back on this game, there's three things that stand out," said Cavs coach Mike Brown. "It's our poise we kept throughout the game when they went on runs, the way we defended in the second half, and what an MVP-performance by LeBron James. We kind of threw our offense out of the window in the second half and said 'hey big fella take us home' and he did."
Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 14 points and eight rebounds for the Cavaliers, who will try to finish off the four-game sweep Monday in Atlanta. Delonte West tallied 12 points and Mo Williams 11 in the victory.
The Cavs have yet to lose in playoffs, sweeping Detroit in the first round. Their seventh straight postseason win also set a franchise record. All seven of those victories have come by double digits, which sets an NBA record, surpassing the 2004 Indiana Pacers.
"The important thing is we want to play well," said James of Monday's game. "We play well, we execute our game plan, give ourselves a good chance to win on Monday, if we do that and lose we can be satisfied with that. We don't want to do go down, lose not executing our game plan and not play the way we're capable of playing. We look forward to the challenge again on Monday."
Joe Johnson, who was a game-time decision following a sprained right ankle he suffered in Game 2's 105-85 loss, started and led the Hawks with 21 points. Josh Smith added 18 points, and Flip Murray scored 17.
"We did all we could, but I don't think we did enough to win in the second half in order to win," said Smith. "We have to play with a sense of urgency on Monday."
Forwards Al Horford and Marvin Williams also played for Atlanta despite injuries. Horford, who has been dealing with a sprained right ankle, started and was limited to six points. Williams, who has been bothered by a sprained right wrist, scored four in a reserve role.
A Williams jumper had the Hawks within 75-69 with just over nine minutes left, but that's when James took over, hitting consecutive jumpers to fuel a 9-0 spurt. Joe Smith capped the burst with a jumper inside six minutes remaining.
Johnson scored eight straight Atlanta points at one juncture late in the fourth, getting his team within 88-79 with less than four minutes left. But James hit two foul shots and Williams banged in a three-pointer, essentially sealing the victory.
"I liked the effort, but as good as a team they are they reacted, they handled the runs, they came back," said Horford. "We have to be able to consistently finish out the game."
Cleveland led by as many as nine points in the first quarter but carried just a 22-18 edge going to the second. James canned a long three-pointer in the waning seconds of the period.
Murray's three two minutes into the second capped a 10-0 run and gave Atlanta a 36-30 lead, but the Cavs came back in the latter stages of the stanza, gaining a 47-46 edge at the half thanks to James hitting 1-of-2 foul shots.
It was a back-and-forth battle in the third. The Cavs started the quarter on a 15-4 run, with Ilgauskas' jam capping the spurt. The Hawks, though, came back with the ensuing 13 points, capped by Murray's bucket for a 63-62 edge with over four minutes left.
Cleveland finished the quarter on a 10-2 spurt. Included in that surge was a technical free throw for James when Atlanta's Zaza Pachulia was ejected. Smith went in for a layup but bowled over Pachulia in the lane. Pachulia was called for a blocking foul, and he argued before being thrown out.
Game Notes: The Cavs shot 50.7 percent from the field and held a 46-23 rebounding advantage...James finished 15-of-25 overall from the floor...The Cavs had won their last three games by at least 20 points, which tied the 1986 Los Angeles Lakers for most in a single postseason.