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Raise your hand if you predicted that the Cavaliers would snap their 10-game skein on a Lamar Stevens dunk in the game’s final seconds.
It might not have been a typical victory for the Wine & Gold, but it was one that was desperately needed – as Cleveland scored the game’s final five points, including the dunk by Cleveland’s undrafted rookie, to take the 112-111 victory on Tuesday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
The Cavaliers trailed by five with 3:15 to play, but squeezed the Hawks down the stretch – with Collin Sexton’s bank shot getting Cleveland to within one, 111-110, with just over a minute to play.
The Hawks had three opportunities at the rim on their next possession but didn’t score and were again held scoreless following a Darius Garland turnover with 29 seconds to play, as Trae Young missed a floater with 11.3 remaining.
On Cleveland’s last possession, Sexton fed a streaking Stevens – who used a nice Jarrett Allen screen to get directly to the basket, dunking home the two-handed game-winner with 4.1 to play.
Without a timeout, Atlanta was unable to get a shot off as the buzzer sounded – with the Cavaliers claiming their second win of the season over the Hawks and first win since a home victory over Minnesota on the first day of February.
Operating again with a shorthanded squad, J.B. Bickerstaff gave reserve forward Dean Wade his first start of the season. Wade responded with a solid 21-minute effort – finishing with five points, two boards, two dimes and pair of swats – but Tuesday’s victory was an all-around team effort.
Sexton topped the 20-point mark in his sixth straight outing – leading both squads with 29 points on 9-of-16 shooting, including 3-of-5 from long-range and 8-of-10 from the stripe, adding five assists and a steal.
Garland followed up with 17 points in the win – going 7-of-19 from the floor to go with a team-high eight assists and a pair of steals.
Dylan Windler had easily his best game as a pro, drilling all five triples he attempted off the bench – going 5-for-6 from the floor overall to finish with 15 points, five boards, a steal and blocked shot.
Jarrett Allen doubled-up in his fifth straight game, sixth in his last seven, finishing with 13 points and a team-high 14 boards, adding two assists, a steal and a game-high four blocks.
Cedi Osman rebounded from a nightmare outing in his last game to finish with 11 points off the bench, going 3-of-7 from beyond the arc.
Overall, the Cavs bench – which notched just nine points in Sunday’s loss to the Thunder – finished with 39 points on a combined 15-for-23 shooting.
As a team, Cleveland shot 53 percent from the floor, including 54 percent (15-of-28) from beyond the arc.
Atlanta was led by Trae Young, who poured in 28 points and led both squads with 12 assists. Clint Capela, the league’s leading rebounder, led both teams on Tuesday night, grabbing 17 boards – eight off the offensive glass.
Miss any of the action? Find all the highlights and photos in the Game Tracker.
Lamar Stevens drives through the defense and has a wide open dunk to give the Cavs the lead with four seconds left.
In a game that featured six ties and nine lead-changes, Tuesday’s contest – and turning point – truly came down to the closing seconds.
As good as the Cavaliers were offensively, it was their defense that saved the day. Trailing by at touchdown with just over seven minutes to play, Cleveland clamped down from there – holding the Hawks to just a single field goal over the final three minutes of regulation and outscoring Atlanta, 17-9, to close the contest.
By the Numbers - 26.0, .535, .400, .846 … Collin Sexton’s scoring average – along with his shooting percentages from the floor, from three-point range and from the stripe – in his last four outings against his hometown team … all victories.
"It’s a group effort. We’re not going to do it individually. And I think we’re better when we’re together and tonight I really felt that and I think we showed that. It’s something that we want to continue to show and I think it’ll be best for our future."
Enjoy the best broadcast calls of the night from Cavaliers Radio Network's Tim Alcorn and Rafa Hernandez-Brito from Power 89.1.
With their matchup with Atlanta in the rearview mirror, the Wine & Gold have now just four games remaining in the season’s first half – with two more home games and two more on the road.
On Wednesday night, Cleveland welcomes John Wall and the Rockets to town for the second half of the midweek back-to-back before hitting the road for a pair – traveling to face the Sixers on Saturday night and to Houston on Monday for a rematch with the Rockets.
The Cavs close out the first half next Wednesday night when Domantas Sabonis and the Pacers come to town.