Cavs Can't Catch Hawks

Gee, Kyrie's Efforts Not Enough Against Atlanta
Kyrie Irving
Three days idle. A rotation-changing trade. A starting lineup change to start Sunday’s game and another to start the second half.

Add all these factors up and you’re left with Sunday afternoon’s 103-87 loss to the Hawks at The Q.

The Hawks trailed briefly early in the affair and led by as many as 19 in the second half. Still, the Wine and Gold managed to cut Atlanta’s 19-point edge to just six late in the period. The Cavs would get no closer.

The Cavaliers last played on Thursday and, in-between dates, made a Deadline deal that sent Ramon Sessions’ – the squad’s most effective bench player – to Los Angeles in exchange for the Lakers’ No. 1 pick, as well as Luke Walton, who appeared in a Cavs uniform for the first time on Sunday.

With rookie Tristan Thompson inserted into the starting five, the Cavaliers played Atlanta even through most of the first quarter. But the Hawks closed the first on a 10-2 run and eventually went into the locker room two touchdowns.

“I thought in the first quarter, they came out, and as we would say, ‘punched us in the mouth’ and I don’t think we ever really responded after that,” said Coach Scott. “It was pretty even throughout the game after that. I thought they came out very aggressive from the start. We didn’t come out aggressive enough – that’s the bottom line.”

Cleveland was paced by Alonzo Gee’s career-high 20-point performance. The third-year forward from Alabama went 9-for-16 from the floor and barely missed a double-double with nine boards.

“They’re a very physical team and they made plays as a team,” said Gee. “They made a lot of shots and once they get it going, they’re hard to stop.”

Rookie Kyrie Irving did not miss a double-double, finishing Sunday’s loss with 19 points and 10 assists. The former Blue Devil added three boards, two steals and a team-high two blocks.

“I think it really came down to how we started the game,” observed Irving. “I think at times we weren’t playing with a sense of urgency that we needed, especially against a good Atlanta team.”

Antawn Jamison was the only other Cavalier in double-figures – notching 13 of his 17 points in the second half.

Minus Sessions, the Cavaliers’ bench managed just 19 points. Boobie Gibson – who got the second-half start – didn’t shoot the ball well, finishing just 1-of-6 from the floor, but he did set a season-high with eight boards.

Atlanta topped Cleveland in second-chance buckets, the paint and on the break. The Hawks shot 51 percent to the Cavs’ 39. Joe Johnson led all scorers with 28.

The Wine and Gold hit the road for three straight – beginning with the second-half of a back-to-back against Deron Williams and the Nets in New Jersey. A rematch with the Hawks is on tap for Wednesday and the trip concludes with a meeting against the Magic on Friday.

  • Kyrie Irving notched his first double-double of his career on Sunday. He became the first rookie to double-up in points and assists since LeBron James did so against the Miami Heat in 2004.

  • In his last six games, Alonzo Gee is averaging 16.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.0 steals per contest. He’s tallied double-figures in his last eight outings.

  • Irving is one of the league’s best long-distance marksmen against in his own Conference. This year, he’s fourth in the NBA, shooting .479 from three-point range against the East.

  • Newly-acquired Luke Walton, sporting jersey No. 32, made his first appearance in uniform, but didn’t see action on Sunday.

  • After an upset-filled weekend in the NCAA Tourney, only two Cavaliers – Antawn Jamison (UNC) and Samardo Samuels (Louisville) – have teams remaining in the Dance. Following Sunday’s game, Kyrie Irving was asked if he’d gotten over Duke being upset by Lehigh on Friday night.

    “Duke lost?” the rookie asked, tongue-in-cheek. “I hadn’t seen that.”