Atlanta LeBron James had that unstoppable feeling.
Everyone get out of the way. Time for him to do something really special.
As if being the league’s MVP wasn’t enough, James scored 47 points in his best performance yet of these playoffs, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to the brink of their second straight postseason sweep with a 97-82 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night.
“It’s unexplainable, honestly,” James said after carrying Cleveland to a 3-0 lead in the series. “There’s only a few guys in this league that can get into a zone like that, and I’m blessed to have the ability to be one of those guys.
“You just feel like you can make pretty much every shot you take.”
He’ll get no argument from the Hawks, who put up their best fight of the series and still find themselves just one loss away from calling it a season. The Cavaliers said James was the first player ever to score that many points, grab that many rebounds (12) and dole out that many assists (eight) in a playoff game.
“LeBron was just out of his mind tonight,” Atlanta’s Josh Smith said.
Cleveland kept up its dominating run through the playoffs, setting an NBA record with its seventh straight double-figure win to eclipse the mark set by the 2004 Indiana Pacers. The only solace for the Hawks: They stopped the Cavaliers’ streak of 20-point playoff wins at three.
The Hawks were only down 47-46 at the halftime, and they surged back into their first second-half lead of the series with a 13-0 run in the third quarter. But Zaza Pachulia got ejected for arguing a foul call — acting as though he might attack the officials — and Atlanta faded away down the stretch.
James made sure of that.
He normally rests the first few minutes of the second and fourth quarters, but this time he asked to stay in the game heading to the final period. Coach Mike Brown wasn’t about to sit his star down.
“He took the ball, put it in his hands and said he was going to score for us, so I told him, ‘OK,”’ Brown said. “I just told everybody else, ‘Let’s defend.”’
James eclipsed his previous high in these playoffs — 38 vs. the Pistons — and finished just one off his best playoff performance ever, a 48-point night against Detroit in 2007.