Cavaliers use 3-pointers to beat Hawks

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[December 13, 2017]  CLEVELAND -- The Atlanta Hawks are an inviting opponent for the Cleveland Cavaliers in at least one way.

The Cavs sure make a ton of 3s against them.

Cleveland set a season high with 20 3-pointers and blew past the Atlanta Hawks 123-114 on Tuesday night. LeBron James scored 25 points and tied a career high with 17 assists. He made two 3s.

Kyle Korver (19 points) drained six 3-pointers, Kevin Love (17 points, 12 rebounds) added four 3s, and so did Jose Calderon (14 points, tying a season high).

"We're in a good rhythm right now," said James, whose .894 field-goal percentage (11 of 13 shooting) was the third highest of his career. "We know what we want to run, we know where guys are going to be out on the floor, we kind of know how defenses have been playing us as of late and guys are moving and sharing the ball extremely well. When the ball is moving, energy is behind it and guys are in rhythm."

The Cavs, who led by 24 in the fourth quarter, shot 20 of 38 from 3-point range. Their previous season high of 18 3s came against the Hawks on Nov. 30. The Cavs also hold the NBA records for 3-pointers in a regular-season game (on March 3) and a playoff game (Game 2, 2016 conference semifinals). Both are 25, and each came against the Hawks.

Atlanta nailed 16 from long range and was led by Taurean Prince's 24 points. Kent Bazemore scored 20 points and made six 3s.

"It's a tried and true formula," Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. "You have a great player and you put 3-point shooting around him and it makes it tough. They had even more 3-point shooting tonight. LeBron is obviously a great facilitator and a great passer. They made the plays, not just him."

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said the Hawks' defense is vulnerable to James' passing on the perimeter.

"I think they do a lot of double-teaming and tilting with the bigs so that allows LeBron to just pick the guys apart," Lue said. "He's able to make passes over the double team or to guys cutting for layups. When we're playing with pace and getting out in transition it's tough for those guys to get back and get matched."

J.R. Smith set a season high with eight assists for Cleveland. Jae Crowder scored 13 points and Jeff Green added 17 points off the bench,

Tristan Thompson, playing for the first time since Nov. 1 because of a strained left calf, played six minutes -- all in the first quarter. He didn't score or grab a rebound, and was not on the bench for the second half. Lue said before the game that Thompson's minutes would be restricted.

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Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) throws a pass in the fourth quarter abasing the Atlanta Hawks at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

"We wanted to give him a six- or seven-minute burn in that first quarter," Lue said. "Then in the second half it was already the game plan that he wasn't playing in the second half. Wasn't able to work him back in in that second quarter."

The Cavs were 9 of 13 from distance in the first quarter, tying an NBA high for 3s in a quarter this season. They had 11 total field goals in the first quarter and the game was tied at 31.

Cleveland pulled ahead 62-48 by halftime. Love scored all of his 17 in the first half; Korver added 13 in the first half with four 3s; and James registered nine points and nine assists. The Cavs made 13 3-pointers in the first half.

This was Cleveland's 21st consecutive game with at least 100 points. It is 2-1 against the Hawks this season.

Hawks rookie Tyler Cavanaugh made his first NBA start, contributing 11 points and nine rebounds at center.

"It's tough because they kind of took it to us tonight," Cavanaugh said. "They're a very good team but we gave way too many open looks at times. We struggled at times with what our coaches wanted to do defensively, me especially."

NOTES: Cavs G Dwyane Wade missed his second game this season and first since Oct. 25 with left knee soreness. Wade is averaging 11.5 points, 3.9 assists, and shooting a career-best 35.5 percent from 3-point range. His 12.3 points off the bench (he made three starts to begin the season) are eighth in the league. ... Cavs F LeBron James played Wade's minutes as the backup point guard. To do that, coach Tyronn Lue brought Cavs C Tristan Thompson off the bench first to sub for James. Thompson hadn't played since Nov. 1 because of a left calf injury. ... Hawks rookie F John Collins (left AC joint sprain) missed his sixth consecutive game. He hasn't played since suffering the injury against the Cavs on Nov. 30. The Hawks "assigned" Collins to their "G" League affiliate, the Erie Bayhawks, because they were practicing in Cleveland on Tuesday. The recalled him after practice.

[ 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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