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Wrap-Up – On a night filled with drama and suspense, it was only appropriate that Jeff Teague’s step-back jumper used every inch of the rim before falling in to foil the Cavaliers in double-overtime. Teague’s buzzer-beater capped a crazy night at The Q, sending the Wine and Gold to the gut-wrenching 127-125 loss – their second straight home defeat and third consecutive loss overall.
Kyrie Irving scored 16 of his game-high 40 points in the two extra sessions, going 17-for-33 from the floor and leading the squad with nine assists. Tristan Thompson followed up with 22 points, six boards and a pair of blocks. Dion Waiters returned from a wrist injury to net 20 points in nearly 42 minutes off the bench and Anderson Varejao led both clubs with 17 boards. CJ Miles rounded out the Cavaliers in double-figures with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting.
The Cavs had several chances to close the game out. They led late by four points with just over two minutes to play in regulation, led by three with six seconds remaining in the first overtime period and by five with midway through the second OT. But each time, the resilient Hawks clawed their way back. Teague led Atlanta with a career-high 34 points and led both teams with 14 assists. Kyle Korver was just 4-of-12 from beyond the arc, but every trey seemed to come at a crucial juncture, including a four-point play with 2:44 remaining in the second overtime that cut Cleveland’s five-point edge to just one.
Turning Point – With 5:41 to play in the fourth quarter, the Cavs were poised to pull away from the Hawks, taking a seven-point lead on Kyrie’s layup. But Al Horford canned a three-pointer to get Atlanta to within four. After an Irving miss, Korver canned his first three-pointer of the night (extending his streak with at least one trey at 98 games) and the Hawks were within a single point. Horford would go on to score the Hawks’ final four points of regulation – including a lay-in to tie the game at 95-apiece with just over a minute to play.
Game Ball – Kyrie Irving – The Cavs All-Star guard was Mr. Sixth Quarter on Thursday night – saving his best for last. Irving had a strong game brewing by halftime, but he hit another gear after intermission – netting 31 points in the second half of Thursday’s affair. Kyrie was 3-of-8 from long-distance and 3-of-4 from the stripe, adding a pair of boards and a game-high four steals. He did commit a team-high six turnovers in 45 minutes of play, but his Atlanta adversary – Jeff Teague – evened it out with a half-dozen miscues of his own.
By the Numbers – 2,500 … defensive rebounds Anderson Varejao has grabbed in his career as a Cavalier. On Thursday night, he passed Larry Nance for 6th place on the all-time list in franchise history.
Quotable – Dion Waiters, lamenting Thursday night’s loss to Atlanta …
”It’s tough, especially that one right there. We could have put it away multiple times.”
Up Next – With the holidays upon us (and the NFL season wrapping up) the Cavaliers’ schedule gets a little strange over the next couple weeks. Cleveland travels to Boston for a 1 p.m. matinee against the Celtics on Saturday, then returns home for a 6 p.m. battle with the high-octane Warriors at The Q. The Cavaliers then travel to play their third straight afternoon game – a 3 p.m. matchup with the Pacers in Indiana on New Year’s Eve.
Watch Highlights: Hawks 127, Cavs 125