CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers made the plays they needed to extend their dominance of the Charlotte Hornets.
The most significant ones came when the Hornets had the ball.
“Our defense was phenomenal,” said James, who scored 31 points in Cleveland’s 115-107 victory Wednesday night. “We had a great game plan and we were just in tune. We executed it.”
Five of the Hornets’ 13 turnovers came in the fourth quarter, and Cleveland finally pulled away in a game that was tight for three quarters.
“They showed – you can say whatever you want – they’re the best team in the East, when they want to (be),” Hornets guard Nic Batum said.
The Cavaliers have won seven straight against the Hornets and 11 of 12. James is 40-6 in the regular season against Charlotte.
Kyle Korver’s 3-pointer with 1:06 left in the third quarter put the Cavaliers ahead for good at 86-84. They extended the lead to 10 points three times in the fourth quarter, first when James drove into the lane and hit a stepback baseline jumper to make it 105-95.
Cleveland’s Kevin Love had 22 points and 10 rebounds, Jeff Green added 13, Korver had 11 and J.R. Smith 10. The Cavaliers have won three straight and four of five.
The loss was Charlotte’s fifth in a row since a five-point win at Milwaukee on Nov. 1.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist shot 10 of 14 from the field and led Charlotte with a season-high 22 points, three shy of his career best. Point guard Kemba Walker had 20.
Batum played his first game of the season after a tearing a ligament in his left elbow last month. He started and scored 16 points in 32 minutes, including seven straight in the second half as the Hornets took a 58-52 lead.
Jeremy Lamb added 13 points off the bench.
Howard, who entered averaging 14.4 points and 13.1 rebounds, was limited by foul trouble and played just 23 minutes.
He finished with eight points and five rebounds and fouled out with 24.5 seconds left.
In Atlanta, Dewayne Dedmon scored a career-high 20 points and had 14 rebounds, and the Atlanta Hawks rode a dominant first half to the most lopsided win in franchise history, 126-80 over the Sacramento Kings.
Atlanta’s 46-point margin of victory was two points better than its previous best, a 141-97 win over Detroit on Feb. 7, 1994.
Dennis Schroder had 21 points and eight assists for hot-shooting Atlanta. The Hawks snapped a four-game losing streak and won for the first time at home.
The Kings completed a 0-3 trip while falling to 1-8 away from home in the matchup of last-place teams.
Zach Randolph led Sacramento with 16 points.