Cleveland, now 19-1 since starting the season 1-2, can set a new record for consecutive wins in Atlanta on Saturday.
For the first time this season, the Cavaliers were dealing with some adversity as starting center Zydrunas Ilgauskas was forced to sit out with a sprained left ankle, an injury he sustained on Wednesday night in Philadelphia. Cleveland was also without reserve guard Daniel Gibson, who is nursing a sprained toe.
The Cavs weren't whole.
But with James, they don't have to be.
Varejao filled in for Ilgauskas, who is expected to miss several games, and the frizzy-haired Brazilian and rookie Darnell Jackson, playing a season-high 24 minutes, did a nice job holding their own inside against Philadelphia's big men. Varejao had seven rebounds, and Jackson added eight.
Delonte West added 16 points and Mo Williams 14 for the Cavaliers (20-3), who didn't get their 20th win until Jan. 15 last season and were 10-13 after 23 games.
James scored 10 straight points during a stretch of the third quarter when the Cavs maintained a double-digit lead. He sat out nearly the first five minutes of the fourth, and while he was getting some rest, his teammates kept a comfortable advantage over the Sixers. In the past, Cleveland's leads would quickly disappear as soon as James went to the bench. Not anymore.
Willie Green led the Sixers with 19 points, Andre Iguodala had 16 and Elton Brand 11 and 11 rebounds in his second game back after sitting two with a sore hamstring.
Philadelphia was still within striking distance in the fourth, but Sasha Pavlovic and Williams made 3-pointers as the Cavs pushed their lead to 18.
Cleveland held Philadelphia to just 14 points in the fourth and 33 after halftime.
Down by eight early on, the Cavaliers caught the Sixers by the end of the first. Still trailing by three, Cleveland put together a 12-2 burst over the final 3:37 of the second to open a 52-39 halftime lead.
Varejao converted a pair of three-point plays in Cleveland's closing spurt.
Notes: Ilgauskas, who is wearing a protective boot, could not have an MRI on his injury because of all the metal in his surgically reconstructed left foot. ... James doesn't know his exact weight, but he's pretty sure it's not 274 pounds. During Cleveland's game in Philadelphia, ESPN ran a graphic comparing James to Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers. "People are just guessing. I don't step on a scale much," James said. "I'm not as big as him, I don't think." ... Speaking of football, James had little to say about the Dallas Cowboys, his favorite team whose stars are feuding. "Turmoil," James said. "It's really bad right now." ... Cleveland's game with the Hawks will be their first stop on a four-game road trip that will include Minnesota, Denver and Oklahoma City. ... The Sixers will host Washington on Saturday. Philly has lost five in a row on their home floor.