Oh, those Cavaliers, they can be schizophrenic.It is more agreeable to be manic and win than to be manic and lose.Therefore, Wednesday night's effort must be declared a success, even if it lacked aesthetic value.
It was hardly a worthy follow-up to Tuesday's 30-point win over the Indiana Pacers, but the Cavs maneuvered through a tricky 106-97 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. That's three victories in a row for the team, and they all count the same in the standings.
Celebrating their defensive effort during and perhaps even after their late flight to Atlanta on Tuesday, the Cavs didn't back it up on the tail end of a back-to-back.
Their defense was porous and lifeless for much of the evening, but they survived with a heady sense of timing, combined with the Hawks' youthful approach to crunch time.
The Cavs (23-17) outscored Atlanta 30-15 in the fourth quarter to run away with it when their defense finally got its legs. Once again, LeBron James was the root and, as has been the case during this mini-streak, he got crucial support.
James scored 38 points with nine rebounds and six assists while logging 46 grueling minutes. But it was Donyell Marshall's 16 fourth-quarter points that truly saved the day.
The Cavs defense-first coach Mike Brown was feeling sick during stretches in the first half. After sticking to defensive principles and giving up just 22 points in the paint to the Pacers on Tuesday, the Cavs seemed slow and willing to allow the Hawks the opposite.
The Hawks (11-29) made 20 of their first 31 shots, and 14 came within a few feet of the basket. In all, they piled up 44 points in the paint and shot 51 percent, usually indicators of victory for a home team.
"Coming off a back-to-back after a big win against Indiana, it was easy for us not to bring the intensity tonight," James said. "You can't win a big game like that and then lose a game like this."
In other NBA action: Chicago 104, Toronto 88; Washington 89, Boston 87; Sacramento 106, New York 102, OT; Detroit106, Milwaukee 102, OT; San Antonio 84, New Orleans 68; Memphis 107, Minnesota 87; Seattle 113, Utah 94; Denver 97, Portland 94; Houston 102, Charlotte 78; LA Clippers 90, New Jersey 77; Dallas 102, Golden State 93.