– Forget the Big Three.

One is enough for the Cleveland Cavaliers, as long as it's the King.

LeBron James scored 30 points and the Cavaliers took command of the Eastern Conference final even without injured star Kyrie Irving, beating the Atlanta Hawks 94-82 on Friday night for a 2-0 lead with the series heading to Ohio.

Cleveland pulled away with a dominating third quarter. James scored 11 points, the Hawks shot just 32 percent (7-for-22), and Cleveland led by as many as 20.

This was a blowout in every sense. The final margin, with a bunch of backups on the court, was as close as Hawks had been since midway through the third.

"You really can't make me do what I don't want to do," said James, who also had 11 assists and nine rebounds. "I play the right way."

The Hawks won't argue.

Irving was scratched before the game because of an ailing left knee. Even so, the Cavaliers cruised to their second win in Atlanta.

James assumed many of the ballhandling duties, taking advantage of Atlanta's DeMarre Carroll being at less than 100 percent. Carroll started after being carried off the court just two nights earlier.

He wasn't the only one struggling. The Hawks were totally outclassed for one of the few times all season.

"In the playoffs, it takes more," Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. "It takes better execution, better screening. You've got to do things harder."

The Cavaliers can wrap up the best-of-seven series simply by winning at home. The next two are in Cleveland, beginning with Game 3 on Sunday night.

This is why James returned home after leading the Heat to a pair of NBA titles. The Cavaliers assembled a Miami-like Big Three with James, Irving and Kevin Love, but the King is carrying the load with Irving sidelined and Love out with a season-ending injury.

"How much does it help to have LeBron on your team?" Cleveland coach David Blatt said, repeating a question incredulously. "Do I really have to answer that?"


To be fair, James had a bit of help. Tristan Thompson had 16 rebounds to spark Cleveland to a 47-39 advantage.