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Cavs lose again; coach denies rift

LeBron James misses Atlanta’s win over his team, and Cleveland coach says his team is close-knit.

PAUL MILLSAP took over for Atlanta in the fourth quarter to help hold off a Cleveland comeback and the Hawks beat the visiting Cavaliers, who were without LeBron James, 109-101, last night.

James, celebrating his 30th birthday, was held out with a sore left knee. His status is day-to-day.

The Hawks led by 17 points early in the second half but had to hold off a comeback by Cleveland, which had 35 points from Kyrie Irving.

The Cavaliers (18-13) have lost three of four. Before the game, coach David Blatt addressed speculation of unrest on the team.

"I didn't feel a necessity to talk to the guys about that because that's simply not the case," Blatt said. "And just because things are reported or said, it doesn't mean that they're true.

"We have a very good group. Close-knit. Guys are engaged, guys are listening. We went through a couple of tough games. A few short games ago we were 18-10 and looking good."

The Hawks were without center Al Horford, saying he felt nauseated during pregame warmups.

Cavaliers forward Kevin Love left the game in the third quarter with back spasms.

In other games

* At New Orleans, Tyreke Evans scored 24 points, including eight straight in the final 2 minutes, as the Pelicans held off Phoenix, 110-106, to stop the Suns' winning streak at six games.

Anthony Davis had 19 points with a season-high 18 rebounds, and Jrue Holiday scored 17 of his 21 in the second half for New Orleans. Evans' step-back jumper with 49.9 seconds left, coupled with a late steal by Dante Cunningham, helped the Pelicans hang on.

* At Orlando, Jodie Meeks scored a season-high 34 points off the bench, shooting 9-for-11 on three-pointers, and Andre Drummond added 17 points and 22 rebounds to lead the Detroit Pistons to a 109-86 victory over the Magic.

* At Chicago, Brook Lopez had a season-high 29 points, Joe John-son had 20 points and 11 rebounds as the Brooklyn Nets posted a 96-82 victory to snap the Bulls' seven-game winning streak.

* At Memphis, Mike Conley had 30 points and six assists as the Grizzlies defeated the San Antonio Spurs, 95-87.

* At Dallas, Monta Ellis' 20 points led six Mavericks in double figures in a 114-87 win over Washington. The Wizards had no one scoring more than 11 points and lost the turnover battle, 22-7.

* At Denver, Kobe Bryant had a triple double (23 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists) as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Nuggets, 111-103.

* At Salt Lake City, Gordon Hayward and Trey Burke each scored 26 points to lead the Utah Jazz to a 100-94 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves (Shabazz Muhammad, 30 points).


* Charlotte center Al Jefferson will miss a minimum of 4 weeks with a strain of an adductor muscle in his left groin. The Hornets' top scorer, he is averaging 18 points and 8.2 rebounds.

* Utah guard Alec Burks will undergo surgery on his left shoulder this morning and miss the remainder of the season. He was averaging 13.9 points.