Hawks Drop Cavs in the ATL
Wrap-Up – With the Wine and Gold in hot pursuit of the final playoff spot – with the Hawks (and Knicks) in the way – Friday night’s matchup in Atlanta was one the Cavs almost had to have. Instead, the Hawks got off to a blistering start, netting 39 points in the first period, and never looking back to hand Cleveland one of its toughest losses of the season – a 117-98 defeat at Philips Arena.
Dion Waiters led four Cavaliers in double-figures with 23 points on 8-for-19 shooting. Spencer Hawes doubled-up for the 24th time this season, netting 16 points, 10 boards and six steals. Kyrie Irving, in his second game back after missing the previous eight with a biceps injury, added 13 points, seven boards, four assists and six steals of his own. Luol Deng added 13 points, but struggled from the floor. Jarrett Jack and Anderson Varejao came off the bench to notch nine points apiece.
Atlanta got a huge lift off their bench –with reserve guard Mike Scott going 12-for-13 from the field for a game-high 26 points. On the night, the Hawks shot 59 percent from the floor, dishing out 35 assists to the Cavaliers’ 16. The Hawks weren’t quite as dominant as the final score would indicate – making just ten trips to the line and committing 17 turnovers. But it was enough to cool off the Cavaliers on Friday night.
Turning Point – The turning point of Friday’s loss came early, with the Hawks establishing their offense right from the opening tip. They took their first double-digit lead exactly halfway through the first period and kept Cleveland at arm’s length the rest of the way. The Cavaliers never led on Friday, nor did they cut Atlanta’s edge to single-digits through the remaining three quarters of play.
Game Ball – Dion Waiters – While the Wine and Gold struggled through the first quarter, Waiters kept them in the ballgame, hitting his first four shots, including a pair of three-pointers. Like the rest of the squad, he cooled off in the second period – going just 1-for-6 from the floor – but still managed to lead the squad in scoring. He finished 3-of-5 from beyond the arc and 4-for-4 from the stripe, adding two boards and three assists.
By the Numbers – 16 … league-leading consecutive games that the Cavaliers have kept an opponent under 45 points in the paint. Atlanta tallied 40 in the win, with the Wine and Gold going for 44.
Quotable – Coach Mike Brown, on Friday’s critical loss in Atlanta …
”The loss was very, very disappointing. I’m okay with losses, even right now. You want to win every game you play, but sometimes it’s not going to happen. If you lose a certain way, you can stomach it to a certain degree. The way we lost (made it) look like we weren’t playing for much out there.”
Up Next – Cavs return home for the second half of the weekend back-to-back, facing off against the Bobcats on Saturday night at The Q. They’ll get a rare three-day respite before welcoming the Pistons to Cleveland for the final time this season on Wednesday night. They travel to face the lowly Bucks next Friday in Milwaukee before welcoming the Celtics to town the following night. It’s another three-day break from there, before wrapping up the regular season next Wednesday against Brooklyn on Fan Appreciation night at The Q.