CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Cavaliers crushed the Atlanta Hawks 105-85 on Thursday to take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
LeBron James stamped Cleveland's authority early, scoring 18 of his game-high 27 points in the first half to help the Cavs to a 24-point lead and earn himself a fourth quarter rest.
"Defence (has been the key) for us throughout the whole series and the playoffs," James told reporters.
"When we get stops it's easy for us to execute on offence. They're an explosive team if you let them, but we're a confident ball club," said James, who was crowned the NBA's Most Valuable Player this week.
Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James reacts against the Atlanta Hawks during the first half of Game 2 of their NBA Eastern Conference semifinal playoff basketball game in Cleveland, Ohio May 7, 2009. [Agencies]
Maurice Evans scored 16 points for the Hawks, who made just 35 percent of their shots.
Down 30 points at three quarter time, Atlanta rallied to within 15 late in the game, but ultimately struggled without injured big man Al Horford (ankle) and Joe Johnson, who left the court in the third with an ankle injury.
Cleveland has won all six of their playoff games by 11 points or more, while only conceding an average of 78.1 points per match.
"It's been great for us, the fans here have been phenomenal all year," said Cavaliers guard Wally Szczerbiak, who finished with 17 points. "It's been fun to play from in front. It comes from our coaching staff -- they won't let us relax."
The teams head to Atlanta on Saturday for game three of the best-of-seven series.