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Cavs Can't Complete Comeback in Atlanta

Late Miscue, Missed Free Throws Send Wine & Gold to Sixth Straight Loss
Cedi Osman
Scott Cunningham/NBAE/GettyImages

Wrap-Up -- There are no moral victories in the NBA, but the Cavaliers have nothing to hang their heads about as the calendar year comes to a close.

Playing with just nine healthy bodies throughout their three-game roadie – and again on Saturday night in Atlanta – the Wine & Gold battled for the full 48. But a huge turnover in the final minute cost them a chance at salvaging the trip as the Hawks held on to hand Cleveland the 111-108 heartbreaker at State Farm Arena.

The shorthanded Cavaliers closed out the calendar year with six straight losses, but get a well-earned four day break and a four-game homestand to tip off 2019.

The Cavaliers trailed through most of the second half and were down 11 early in the fourth quarter, but they continued to attack, coming all the way back to tie the contest at 106-apiece when Atlanta native Collin Sexton split a pair of free throws with just under a minute to play.

With 47.9 to play, the Hawks regained the lead on John Collins’ putback of his own miss.

The Cavaliers had a chance to tie on their next possession, but after a timeout Alec Burks had trouble in-bounding the ball and Justin Anderson came up with the steal with 33 seconds to play.

Atlanta canned three of their next four free throws to take a five-point lead with six seconds to play. Burks scored on a late layup, but it wasn’t enough as the Hawks won for the second time in three tries against Cleveland this season.

For most of the campaign, the Cavaliers’ bench has been the driving force, but on Saturday the starters came to play.

Larry Nance Jr.


Larry Nance Jr. records his sixth double-double of the season.

Cedi Osman – who was aggressive from the opening tip – led the way with a game-high 22 points, going 8-of-12 from the floor, including 2-of-4 from beyond the arc, to go with eight boards and three assists.

Larry Nance has been outstanding all month and has turned it up substantially in Tristan Thompson’s absence. On Saturday night, he doubled-up with 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting, adding a game-high 15 boards and four steals to go with a team-high seven assists.

Collin Sexton, playing for the first time as a pro in his hometown, chipped in with 18 points on 6-for-15 shooting, adding six assists and three boards in the loss.

Alec Burks saved his best for last – netting 10 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, going 7-of-14 from the floor overall while adding five boards, five assists and a pair of steals.

As usual, Jordan Clarkson notched double-figures off the bench – finishing with 15 points on 6-for-14 shooting to go with three boards and a pair of assists.

Rookie Trae Young finished with 21 points for Atlanta, but it was a player on the other end of the age spectrum who seemed to do the most damage – with 41-year-old Vince Carter netting 17 of his 21 points after intermission, going 3-for-4 from long-range in the third period and drilling a pair of free throws to seal the deal in the fourth.

Turning Point -- In a game that featured seven ties, five lead-changes and a wild fourth-quarter flurry, it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact moment when the tide turned.

But it was an early moment in the game that set the tone for at least the first half of action.

The Cavaliers were cruising in the first quarter and took a 10-point lead, 24-14, with just 1:14 to play in the period. After a quick back-and-forth, they still led by eight with 17.5 to play in the period. But a dunk by John Collins followed by a steal and three-pointer by DeAndre’ Bembry at the buzzer got the Hawks right back in the ballgame – trailing by only three after one.

It seemed somewhat inconsequential at the time, but Cleveland wouldn’t lead by more than three the rest of the way – needing a 34-point fourth quarter to make it interesting down the stretch.

By the Numbers12.0, 10.5, 4.9, 2.4 … points, rebounds, assists and steals that Larry Nance Jr. is averaging over his last 10 games dating back to December 12 – with five double-doubles in the mix over that stretch.

QuotableCollin Sexton, on his first time back in Atlanta as a pro …

”It felt good playing in front of my hometown just because I haven’t played in front of them in almost two years, so it felt real good to get out there and play. I had my family and friends here, old coaches, really everybody. I had a huge crowd here tonight, so that was really fun to play in front of them. I just wish we could have gotten the win.”

Up Next -- With Saturday night’s loss in Atlanta, the Cavaliers close out the 2018 portion of their schedule, with a much-needed four-game homestand awaiting on the other side. On Wednesday night, the Wine & Gold welcome the Heat to town, hoping to avenge Friday night’s loss on South Beach. After that, it’s a weekend back to back – with Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz rolling in on Friday night followed by a visit from Anthony Davis and the Pelicans the following evening. The Wine & Gold wrap up the four-gamer the following Tuesday against the Pacers before departing for their longest trip of the season – an 11-day, six-game junket – the following night.

Calls of the Game

#CavsHawks Postgame: Larry Nance Jr.

Cavaliers forward/center Larry Nance Jr. spoke with the media following Saturday's loss to the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena.

Cavaliers at Hawks - December 29, 2018

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#CavsHawks Postgame: Larry Nance Jr.

Cavaliers forward/center Larry Nance Jr. spoke with the media following Saturday's loss to the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena.
Dec 29, 2018  |  02:18

#CavsHawks Postgame: Collin Sexton

Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton spoke with the media following Saturday's loss to the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena.
Dec 29, 2018  |  02:13

#CavsHawks Postgame: Cedi Osman

Cavaliers forward Cedi Osman spoke with the media following Saturday's loss to the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena.
Dec 29, 2018  |  03:08

#CavsHawks Postgame: Coach Drew

Cavaliers Head Coach Larry Drew spoke with the media following Saturday's loss to the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena.
Dec 29, 2018  |  02:20

GAME RECAP: Hawks 111, Cavaliers 108

Trae Young scores 21 points and Vince Carter adds a season-high 21 of his own off the bench in the Hawks victory.
Dec 29, 2018  |  00:00

Cedi Powers Home the Slam

Jordan Clarkson outlets to Cedi Osman who throws the hammer down, plus the foul.
Dec 29, 2018  |  00:29

Clarkson Goes Reverse for the Flush

Jordan Clarkson gets loose on the fastbreak and finishes reverse-style with the flush.
Dec 29, 2018  |  00:12

Burks with the Breakaway Slam

Larry Nance Jr. alertly saves the ball to a streaking Alec Burks for the uncontested slam.
Dec 29, 2018  |  00:23

Clarkson Deposits the Easy Dunk

Matthew Dellavedova finds Jordan Clarkson on the backcut for the easy slam.
Dec 29, 2018  |  00:08

Larry Jr. Lobs Blossomgame

Larry Nance Jr. spots Jaron Blossomgame for the pretty high-handoff slam.
Dec 29, 2018  |  00:10

Featured Highlight: Nance Jr. with the Putback Slam

Larry Nance Jr. skies high for the putback slam against the Hawks.
Dec 29, 2018  |  00:14

Jalen Jones Muscles Home the And-One

Jalen Jones crashes the offensive glass and goes up strong for the bucket, plus the foul.
Dec 29, 2018  |  00:19

Clarkson Double Clutch Layup

Jordan Clarkson gets into the lane and converts the tough double clutch layup.
Dec 29, 2018  |  00:13

Burks with the Fancy Finish

Alec Burks goes coast-to-coast and gets fancy with the fastbreak finish in this ‘More Driven Highlight’ driven by Goodyear.
Dec 29, 2018  |  00:23

Nance Jr. Sends the Shot Away

Trae Young goes up for the shot but Larry Nance Jr. is there to swat it away.
Dec 29, 2018  |  00:06
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