Sunday, May 10, 2009
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Gwinnett Daily Post
ATLANTA - The Cleveland Cavaliers were actually being challenged.
Finally, LeBron James had seen enough.
James scored 47 points in his best game yet of these playoffs, leading the Cavaliers to the brink of their second straight postseason sweep with a 97-82 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night.
Back home after two blowout losses in Cleveland, the Hawks put up their best fight of the series. It didn't matter. They now find themselves just one defeat away from calling it a season, the Cavaliers pushing out to another 3-0 lead after breezing past Detroit in the opening round.
Cleveland kept up its dominating run through the playoffs, setting an NBA record with its seventh straight double-figure win to eclipse the mark set by the 2004 Indiana Pacers. The only solace for the Hawks: They stopped Cleveland's streak of 20-point playoff wins at three.
The Hawks were only down 47-46 at halftime, and they surged back into their first second-half lead of the series with a 13-0 run in the third quarter. But Zaza Pachulia foolishly got ejected for arguing a foul call - acting as though he might attack the officials - and Atlanta faded away down the stretch.
James eclipsed his previous high in these playoffs of 38 points vs. the Pistons, and finished just one off his best playoff performance ever, a 48-point night against Detroit while leading Cleveland to its first trip ever to the NBA finals.
They appear to be on the way again, especially with the league's MVP leading the way.