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Irving, James shine, Cavs cage Hawks

dpadpa 12/04/2016 Paul Levine

Kyrie Irving scored 35, LeBron James had 34 before sitting out the fourth quarter and Cleveland clinched the top play-off seed in the Eastern Conference.

Kyrie Irving and LeBron James are polishing up their games for the post-season.

Irving exploded for 35 points, James had 34 on 13-of-16 shooting before sitting out the fourth quarter and the Cleveland Cavaliers clinched the top play-off seed in the Eastern Conference with a 109-94 victory over the visiting Atlanta Hawks on Monday.

"It's great when you're able to accomplish things along the way," said James, eyeing another NBA Championship.

"I was able to deliver and we guaranteed ourselves more home games."

With the play-offs starting this weekend, James is eagerly looking forward to the NBA's second season.

"I'm getting that feeling, it's ramping up a little bit more now that we're in the final week of the regular season," said James, averaging 28.2 points in the last 11 games.

"I'm where I want to be. I'm in a good rhythm. Once the play-off seedings are set, I'll start locking in on my opponent."

The Cavs will face either Indiana or Detroit - the No.8 seed.

Cavs rookie head coach Tyronn Lue was proud of his club's accomplishment.

"We wanted the No.1 seed," he said.

"It's a big thing for us. It's a tribute to how hard they worked, how great they played.

"Now we have to ride this wave going into the play-offs."

Lue says James is raising his game at the right time.

"If LeBron plays like this we're going to be tough to beat," he added.

"The last three or four weeks he's taking his game to a higher level."

Kevin Love had a quiet 10 points and 14 rebounds for the Cavs (56-24), who outscored their guests 68-49 in the middle two periods en route to their seven straight win in the series.

The Cavs led 51-45 at half time, with James scoring 15 points. He added 19 in the decisive 39-point third-quarter and the Cavs opened up a 90-75 cushion.

"King James" rested in the fourth quarter but Irving picked up the slack with 13 points and the Cavaliers cruised home with the milestone win.

"When LeBron went out I told (Kyrie) he had to be aggressive and carry us and that's what he did," Lue said.

Elsewhere, Dallas downed Utah 99-92 with Deron Williams scoring 23 points. Dirk Nowitzki had 22 with 11 rebounds and the visiting Mavericks clinched a play-ff spot for the 15th time in the past 16 seasons.

Houston eclipsed Minnesota 129-105 as James Harden posted 34 points and Trevor Ariza 21.

Oklahoma thrashed LA Lakers 112-79 thanks to Kevin Durant's 34 points, while Russell Westbrook collected his league-leading 18th triple-double of the season.

Charlotte got the better of Boston 114-100, Orlando bounced Milwaukee 107-98, Washington recovered to clip Brooklyn 120-111, Sacramento held off Phoenix 105-101 and Chicago handled New Orleans 121-116.

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