(The Sports Xchange) – LeBron James scored 27 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers made a record 25 three-pointers to pound the Atlanta Hawks 123-98 on Wednesday to take a 2-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
Ten Cavs made three-pointers, led by J.R. Smith with seven. Dahntay Jones’ corner three-pointer with 2:24 left gave the Cavs the all-time record, surpassing the 2009 Orlando Magic and the 2014 Houston Rockets, who each made 23 treys in a game.
The Cavs finished 25-for-45 from long range and are now averaging 16.2 three-pointers per playoff game, easily the most of any team this year.
However, James insists it is not their identity.
“We’re not a three-point shooting team. We don’t want to be labeled that,” he told reporters.
“We’re a well-balanced team that’s capable of making threes. Obviously, we’ve got guys that can knock down shots from the perimeter. It’s been key to our success, but we have to continue to understand that we have to be very balanced offensively.”
The Cavs’ 18 three-pointers in the first half also set a record. The long-range assault carried Cleveland to a 74-38 halftime lead — the largest in the NBA during a playoff game since 1987. The Cavs led by as many as 41 in the third quarter.
Smith scored 23 while shooting 7-for-13 from three-point range, and Kyrie Irving had 19 points. Kevin Love added 11 points and 13 rebounds.
Smith’s three-pointer in the second quarter, after he dribbled behind his back to shake Hawks guard Kyle Korver, put the Cavs ahead 65-35. Smith celebrated with a skip/strut to the other end of the floor without breaking stride.
The Cavs never lost their rhythm all night.
“For the last month and a half, that’s pretty much the way we’ve been playing,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said.
“We’ve been sharing the basketball, playing at a high tempo, moving bodies. When we’re sharing and we’re playing at a high pace and getting stops and everyone touches it, it becomes contagious. Everyone has fun and enjoys playing that way.”
Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said the Cavs’ three-point shooting was a huge concern after Cleveland made 15 three-pointers in its Game One victory. This time, the Cavs made their 15th three-pointer in the second quarter.
“If they shoot the ball like that,” Hawks guard Kyle Korver said, “I don’t know if anyone can beat them, to be honest.”
Paul Millsap had 16 points and 11 rebounds for Atlanta. Jeff Teague scored 14 points and Kris Humphries had 12. Starters for both sides sat out the fourth quarter.
Game Three of the best-of-seven series is at Atlanta today.