Cavaliers sitting pretty with 3-0 series lead

Washington (AFP) –


LeBron James and Kyrie Irving took over in the fourth quarter as the Cleveland Cavaliers took a 3-0 stranglehold lead over Atlanta on Friday to move within one win of advancing to the NBA semi-finals.

James and Kevin Love each posted a double-double for the Cavaliers who drained 21 three pointers against the Hawks in a 121-108 victory. Cleveland is the first team in NBA history to hit at least 20 three pointers in back-to-back games.

The Cavaliers made an NBA-record 25 three-pointers in their game two hammering of the Hawks. They came close to that number again, shooting 53 percent from beyond the arc in front of a crowd of 19,000 at Atlanta's Philips Arena.

Cleveland has all but assured themselves of reaching the Eastern Conference finals as no NBA team has ever come back from an 0-3 deficit in the playoffs.

Game four is Sunday in Atlanta.

The Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors are tied 1-1 in the other best-of-seven East series.

Irving finished with 24 points, James had 24 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists and Channing Frye came off the bench to nail seven shots from beyond the arc. Love finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds.

Atlanta's Al Horford finished with 24 points and Kyle Korver came off the bench to add 18 points, including five three-pointers for the Hawks, who led 91-85 heading into the fourth quarter.

Irving and Frye each connected on two three-pointers early in the fourth quarter and James made his only three-pointer of the game with six minutes remaining, giving Cleveland its first lead since the second quarter.

The Cavaliers pulled away from there and now find themselves in the driver's seat.

Western Conference favorites San Antonio and Golden State also are facing adversity, with Warriors star Stephen Curry trying to come back from a knee injury and the Spurs in a tight tussle with Oklahoma City.

Friday's game three had it all with spectacular dunks, relentless work ethic, physical play and a bunch of three pointers.

Atlanta closed the second quarter on a 20-5 point surge and led 63-55 at halftime.