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James-led Cavs bury Hawks

THE Cleveland Cavaliers crushed an injury-ravaged Atlanta Hawks line-up 105-85 on Thursday to take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

LeBron James stamped Cleveland's authority early, scoring 18 of his game-high 27 points in the first half to help the Cavs to a 24-point lead and earn himself a fourth quarter rest.

"Defence (has been the key) for us throughout the whole series and the playoffs," James said. "When we get stops it's easy for us to execute on offence. They're an explosive team if you let them, but we're a confident ball club," said James, who won the NBA's MVP and a place in the league's All-Defensive First Team this week.

The muscular forward, averaging a formidable 31.5 points, 9.7 rebounds and 6.3 assists for the postseason, closed the half with a remarkable 36-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer. Sidekick Mo Williams chipped in 15 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Cavaliers, who had the match wrapped up with a 30-point lead after three quarters.

Maurice Evans scored 16 points for the Hawks, who made just 35 percent of their shots and struggled without injured big man Al Horford and forward Marvin Williams.

To compound their misery, Joe Johnson left the court in the third quarter with an ankle injury. "I have a boot on (the ankle) and hopefully I'll be ready. I can't see myself not playing (in game three)," Johnson said.

Cleveland has won all six of their playoff games by 11 points or more, while only conceding an average of 78.1 points per match.

"It's been great for us, the fans here have been phenomenal all year," said Cavaliers guard Wally Szczerbiak, who finished with 17 points.

"It's been fun to play from in front. It comes from our coaching staff - they won't let us relax."


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