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Thursday, Dec. 31, 2009

Cavs squeeze Hawks out in fourth quarter

ATLANTA (AP) LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers generated a playoff-like atmosphere at Philips Arena.

News photo
Round the outside: San Antonio's Manu Ginobili shoots around Minnesota's Al Jefferson during the Spurs' 117-99 win on Tuesday. AP PHOTO

The bad news for the Atlanta Hawks was that a disastrous fourth quarter made the game feel like last year's four straight playoff losses to the Cavaliers.

Cleveland held Atlanta scoreless for almost nine minutes to open the fourth quarter and scored the first 10 points of the period to break open a close game and beat the Hawks 95-84 on Tuesday night.

The sellout crowd of 20,150 set a Philips Arena regular-season record. Hawks fans booed every time James touched the ball, but the Cavaliers controlled the final period to earn their fifth straight win.

Cleveland has held three straight opponents under 90 points.

"That's what we do," James said. "It's an ongoing thing. Defensively, we lock down in the fourth quarter. That's where games are won. That's where games are decided."

Mo Williams had 20 points to lead the Cavaliers in their first game against the Hawks since sweeping four games in the second round of last season's playoffs.

Delonte West had 17 points and Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 15 off Cleveland's bench. James had 14 points, 10 assists and five steals but made only 6 of 20 shots from the field.

"A lot of teams are trying to force me to pass the ball, which is OK," James said. "I have guys that can make shots. A lot of teams don't think my guys can make plays out on the court. And I'm OK with that, because I have a lot of faith in my teammates."

Knicks 104, Pistons 87

In Auburn Hills, Mich., David Lee had a season-high 30 points and 12 rebounds, and the Knicks handed the Pistons their eighth straight loss.

Thunder 110, Wizards 98

In Washington, Kevin Durant had 35 points and 11 rebounds, Jeff Green added 18 points and the Thunder beat the Wizards for the franchise's first four-game winning streak in 3 1/2 years.

Rockets 108, Hornets 100

In Houston, Aaron Brooks scored 27 points, Luis Scola added 13 points and 12 rebounds and the Rockets overcame Chris Paul's triple-double and David West's career game in a win over the Hornets.

Bulls 104, Pacers 95

In Chicago, Derrick Rose scored 28 points and the Bulls blew an early 19-point lead before recovering in the second half to beat the Pacers.

Spurs 117, Timberwolves 99

In San Antonio, Richard Jefferson scored 24 points, leading the Spurs to a victory over the Timberwolves.

Lakers 124, Warriors 118

In Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant had a season-high 44 points and 11 assists while making all 16 of his free throws, and the Lakers survived Golden State's 55-percent shooting.

End nigh for McGrad

HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Rockets acknowledge they are trying to trade Tracy McGrady, after the two-time NBA scoring champion's representatives asked the team to deal him.

General manager Daryl Morey said on Tuesday the two sides have had "multiple conversations" and the Rockets "have agreed to look into trade opportunities and have granted him an indefinite leave from team activities."

McGrady was unhappy with his playing time in six games since returning from offseason knee surgery and left the team before two road games over the weekend.

The seven-time All-Star is due to make about $23 million this season in the last year of his contract.

McGrady played a total of 46 minutes in six games this season, his first action since undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee on Feb. 24.

While McGrady had been insisting since training camp that he was ready to play again, the Rockets were hesitant to return him to the regular rotation.

Houston coach Rick Adelman said on Tuesday that McGrady never progressed to the point where he was ready to increase his minutes.

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