ATLANTA (AP) – LeBron James scored 27 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers handed the Atlanta Hawks their fifth consecutive loss, 89-76 on Wednesday night.

Cleveland, which had won only three of 11 road games this season, won for the sixth straight time in Atlanta. The Cavaliers snapped a four-game road skid, winning away from Cleveland for the first time since a Dec. 1 victory at Atlanta.

The Hawks have lost nine of 10 overall.

Starting point guard Speedy Claxton (back), starting center Zaza Pachulia (elbow) and top backup Josh Childress (foot) returned from injuries for Atlanta, but guard Tyronn Lue missed his fifth straight with a groin injury.

The replenished depth wasn’t enough to help the Hawks overcome poor shooting (39.2 percent). Atlanta also committed 23 turnovers.

Joe Johnson, coming off a season-low 12 points Saturday in a loss to Detroit, was only 4-for-17 from the field to set a new low with 10 points. Claxton, who joined Johnson in the starting backcourt, was 4-for-13 for 11 points.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 16 points for Cleveland.

Zaza Pachulia led Atlanta with 22 points. Childress added 12.

The Cavaliers sprinted to a 26-10 lead and led 50-37 at halftime as the Hawks shot only 31 percent from the field.

Claxton’s steal and 3-pointer – the first of the night by the Hawks – pulled Atlanta to 56-50 midway through the third quarter, the Cavaliers’ smallest lead since the opening minutes of the game.

Cleveland recovered quickly. A 3-pointer from Larry Hughes helped spark a 10-4 run that included a fallaway jumper from James and a 3-pointer by Damon Jones. Hughes had 17 points.

Cleveland kept its lead in double figures most of the final period.

Notes: Cleveland’s Eric Snow reached 4,000 career assists with his second assist early in the game. He is one of 10 active players with more than 4,000 assists. … Cavaliers G Ira Newble missed the game while attending a friend’s funeral in Detroit. … Hawks coach Mike Woodson said F Josh Smith will miss four weeks after having hernia surgery Tuesday.

AP-ES-12-27-06 2149EST


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