LeBron James' 29 points lead Cavs past Hawks, 110-108 in OT
ATLANTA (AP) After leading by 21 points in the first half, the Cleveland Cavaliers were pushed past regulation by the Atlanta Hawks.
That was OK with LeBron James, who said the test was good for the Cavaliers.
James had 29 points to pass another Hall of Famer on the NBA's all-time scoring list and the Cavaliers recovered after blowing the big first-half lead to beat the Hawks 110-108 in overtime on Friday night.
James also had 16 rebounds and nine assists, just missing a triple-double.
James said it was good for the Cavaliers to survive the challenge.
''We need these types of games,'' James said, adding the Cavaliers ''played a hell of a first half'' before the Hawks rallied.
''You expect nothing less of an Atlanta Hawks team,'' James said. ''You've got to be able to take their punch.''
James moved past Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson into 11th place on the NBA's scoring list when he scored on a layup late in the third quarter. Atlanta's Al Horford was called for goaltending on the play.
''It's special to be linked with a guy like that,'' said James of Robertson.
The basket gave James 26,711 points. He began the night 21 points behind Robertson's 26,710 points.
The Cavaliers still lead Toronto, which won at Memphis, by 2 1/2 games in the race for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Atlanta outscored Cleveland in the third and fourth quarters to force the extra period.
Horford missed a 3-pointer at the end of overtime. He missed each of his six 3s in the game.
''I felt good about it,'' Horford said. ''It's probably as good a shot as we're going to get at the end of the game. It just didn't go down.''
Kyrie Irving, who had 20 points, made five of six free throws in the final 20 seconds of overtime.
Paul Millsap had 29 points and 12 rebounds for Atlanta. Jeff Teague had 28 points and nine assists.
The Hawks have lost two straight to fall into a tie for fourth in the East. The losses came against Eastern Conference leaders Cleveland and Toronto.
''Obviously, those games kind of gauge where you're at and we lost them both,'' said Kyle Korver, who had 14 points.
Cleveland snapped a streak of five straight losses in Atlanta over four seasons.
James moved past Robertson only one night after passing former Hawks Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins for 12th place.
With the game tied at 96-all late in regulation, James missed an 18-foot jumper, and Atlanta's Kent Bazemore grabbed the rebound with 4.9 seconds remaining.
The Hawks couldn't get off a shot. Iman Shumpert stole the ball from Teague as regulation ended.
The Hawks fell to 0-5 in overtime games.
''We have to work on our execution,'' Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. ''We have to get better - all of us.''
TEAM TO BEAT?
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue offered his opinion on Irving saying on Thursday night the Cavaliers were the team to beat for the NBA championship.
''I would say the team to beat in the East,'' Lue said. ''I wouldn't say overall because Golden State won it all last year.''
Cavaliers: Cleveland's previous win at Atlanta came on Nov. 30, 2012. ... Kevin Love had 15 points. Thompson had nine points and 14 rebounds. J.R. Smith made four 3s for 12 points. ... The teams met for the first time since Nov. 21, when the Cavaliers took a 109-87 home win over the Hawks. They play again at Cleveland on April 11.
Hawks: Postgame X-rays on Bazemore's left wrist were negative. ... Atlanta-based hip-hop recording artist T.I. performed at halftime and after the game. ... The Hawks' 16 turnovers led to 16 points for Cleveland. ... Horford had 14 points and nine rebounds.
Cavaliers host Charlotte on Sunday
Hawks at Phoenix on Tuesday