NBA's MVP winner LeBron James scored 34 points Tuesday to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a lop-sided 99-72 victory over the Atlanta Hawks in their Eastern Conference second round opener.
National Basketball Association commissioner David Stern (L) presents Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James with the league's most valuable player award prior to Game 1 of the NBA Eastern Conference semifinal playoff basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks in Cleveland, Ohio May 5, 2009.[Xinhua/Reuters]
James, who beat the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat for the MVP honor on Monday, also had 10 rebounds, four steals and three assists.
All-Star forward had 16 of his points in the first quarter, which gave the NBA's top regular-season team a lead that was never threatened.
Leading 49-44 at halftime, Cleveland turned up the pressure, outscoring the Hawks 50-28. The visitors scored 11 points in the fourth quarter.
Mo Williams added 21 points and Delonte West had 13 for the Cavaliers, who host Game Two on Thursday.
Josh Smith had 22 points for Atlanta and Mike Bibby contributed19.
Cleveland had not played since April 26 after sweeping the Detroit Pistons 4-0 in the opening round of the playoffs. Atlanta was taken to a deciding Game Seven by the Miami Heat before winning the series 4-3 on Sunday.
(Xinhua News Agency May 6, 2009)