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Hawks soar past Cavaliers

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

CLEVELAND -- Marvin Williams scored 22 points, Al Horford added 16 and 12 rebounds and the Atlanta Hawks remained the only undefeated team in the Eastern Conference by beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 100-88 on Tuesday night for their fourth straight win.

Jamal Crawford added 16 points and Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby had 15 apiece for the Hawks, who improved to 3-0 on the road and snapped a six-game losing streak in Cleveland.

J.J. Hickson scored a career-high 31 points and was playfully serenaded with "M-V-P" chants by Cleveland fans, who used to sing that to superstar LeBron James before he left for Miami.

Mo Williams scored 12 in his season debut for the Cavs, who have dropped three straight since knocking off Boston in their season opener.

Often overlooked in the increasingly tough East, the Hawks are showing early signs they may be able to stay up with the Heat, Celtics, Magic and Bulls this season. With a group that has grown together in recent years, Atlanta could be a dark horse in a crowded field.

After leading by 17 in the first half, the Hawks let the Cavs back in it and only led 89-84 with 5:35 left on a dunk by Horford, who signed a five-year, $60 million contract extension on Monday.

Cleveland had several chances to get closer, but with the Hawks paying extra attention to Hickson inside, the Cavs had to rely on their outside game and couldn't hit a big shot when they needed one. They went 1 for 8 on 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.

Hickson's layup got the Cavs within 91-87 with 3:49 left, but Marvin Williams made two free throws and Horford, with no one to pass to at the top of the key, buried a 20-footer to put the Hawks ahead by eight.

Anthony Parker added 10 points and Anderson Varejao had 12 rebounds for Cleveland, which was without injured forward Antawn Jamsion. He sat out with a sore left knee that has been bothering him for several weeks.

Down by 13 after one, the Cavs limited the Hawks to 19 points in the second quarter. Unfortunately, Cleveland gave up 40 in the first quarter when Atlanta, shooting better than 70 percent for much of the period, threatened to blow the Cavs out.

After Sacramento was able to easily penetrate the heart of Cleveland's defense for easy baskets in a comeback win on Saturday, Cavs coach Byron Scott put an emphasis on his team cutting off driving lanes to the Hawks, one of the league's most athletic squads.

Cleveland succeeded in doing that early on. Trouble was, the Hawks hardly missed a shot. Atlanta went 15 of 21 (71 percent) from the field in the first 12 minutes.

NOTES: Mo Williams missed Cleveland's first three games with a groin injury. ... Horford's new deal locked up one of Atlanta's core players and prevented him from potentially becoming a restricted free agent next summer. Coach Larry Drew is pleased Horford's contract situation is resolved. "I'm glad that it's finalized and that he's going to be a Hawk for a long time," Drew said. ... Scott said Williams will likely make his first start on Friday in Philadelphia. ... Iron lung? Hawks radio announcer Steve Holman worked his 1,800th consecutive game, a streak that includes regular season and playoff games and dates to 1989.