Cavs crush Hawks

Boozer posts his 27th double-double on LeBron's night

Posted: Thursday, March 04, 2004

CLEVELAND - On his bobblehead night, LeBron James again left everyone shaking their heads.

"He just amazes me," Cleveland Cavaliers coach Paul Silas said.

The Cavs' rookie star scored 24 points in three quarters and Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 17, and the Cavs rolled to a 112-80 win Wednesday night over the Atlanta Hawks.

With their fifth win in seven games, the surging Cavaliers moved within one-half game of the No. 8 playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Don't look now, but one season removed from winning just 17 games, Cleveland is only 1 1/2 games out of sixth playoff spot.

"We want to get there," James said. "I want to get there."

A sellout crowd of 20,562 came to Gund Arena for the bobblehead giveaway as the first 10,000 fans through the door received the tiny statues of James. Thousands of fans ringed the Gund more than three hours before tipoff to get their hands on one of the bobbleheads.

"I got one," Silas said. The collectibles are going for more than $200 in Internet auctions.

The other 10,000-plus fans who didn't get the hot collectible didn't leave disappointed, however, as James made several jaw-dropping plays while leading the Cavaliers to their most lopsided win this season.

Atlanta had upset the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, but were no match for the Cavs, who led by 17 points after one quarter, 22 at half, 25 at the end of three and 40 in the fourth.

"We came out wanting to jump this team early," Cavs guard Jeff McInnis said. "That's what we did."

Carlos Boozer of Juneau added 12 points and 15 rebounds for his 27th double-double of the season, and Lee Nailon added 10 points in his first game with the Cavaliers.

Stephen Jackson led Atlanta with 20 points and Jason Terry had 15 for the Hawks, who dropped their fifth straight road game.

"This is miserable," Atlanta coach Terry Stotts said. "I hate sitting on the sideline down by 30."

Energized from the opening tap by the crowd, James gave fans some memories to savor with four dunks in the first half, including a pair of sensational slams to open the second period.

The first one even impressed James.

"It's one of the best I've had," he said. "It was a little something from my early archives."

With Terry and Boris Diaw running with him, James wrapped the ball around his back near the foul line, split the defenders and delivered a right-handed dunk that had Diaw looking for cover and the crowd begging for a scoreboard replay.

"The one behind the back, I had to look myself and say, Oh, my God," Silas said. "That one was awesome."

Seconds later, James got behind Atlanta's defense for another monstrous slam, completing a 15-0 run that put the Cavaliers ahead by 21 points.

Before the game, Silas had urged his young star to play with more energy - and James did just as he was told.

"He was just into it," Silas said. "I hate to put it on a 19-year-old, but tonight he came with it."



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