After a strong showing in his first game with a broken left cheek, James leads the Cleveland Cavaliers as they try for their sixth straight win over the Hawks.
Wearing a plastic mask to protect his face, James scored 26 points in a 94-83 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday.
James said before the game he preferred not to wear the mask, which he needed after Houston Rockets center Dikembe Mutombo elbowed him in the face last week. Once he got used to it, he played as well as he usually does. James shot 11-of-19 and added eight rebounds and six assists.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in myself, I’ve got a lot of confidence in my teammates and they come to me and look at me as a leader,” James said. “I can’t afford to be out there timid. It doesn’t matter if I’ve got a mask on or if I don’t. I’ve just got to be aggressive.”
James had 40 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in a 111-102 win over the Hawks on Dec. 28—the game before his injury. It was Cleveland’s fifth straight win over Atlanta. The Hawks’ last win over the Cavaliers was 92-83 on Nov. 22, 2003.
Cleveland has won three of its last four, overall.
The Cavaliers have a potential new owner in Dan Gilbert, founder of the nation’s largest online mortgage company. He agreed to a deal to buy the Cleveland Cavaliers for $375 million on Monday from owner Gordon Gund. Gilbert’s application for ownership needs to be approved by at least 23 of the league’s 30 owners. Before a vote takes place, the league will do a background check on the prospective owner.
Atlanta lost its fourth straight Sunday, committing 22 turnovers in a 104-101 loss to the Washington Wizards.
“We’ve played good basketball and put ourselves in position to win but for whatever reason we don’t make a shot or we turn it over,” Hawks forward Antoine Walker said. “But at 5-24, moral victories don’t matter. We’re playing well enough to win games but it’s unfortunate that we keep coming up on the short end of the stick.”
Walker, who finished with 18 points, hit a 3-pointer to pull the Hawks to 102-101 with 3.1 seconds left.
Tony Delk led the Hawks with 19 points, and is averaging 14.2 in his last five games.