The Atlanta Hawks turned in a gutty performance Sunday night in an 114-111 overtime loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers to fall behind 3-0 in the series. That the Hawks were competitive isn't really a surprise since they have answered the bell throughout the 2015 season. What is surprising is the amount adversity they had to overcome to even give themselves a chance.
Before Game 3 even started, Atlanta was down a starter in Kyle Korver who is out for the remainder of the series (and maybe much longer) due to an ankle injury. DeMarre Carroll was in the lineup yet again despite the sprained knee that he suffered in Game 1. Kent Bazemore got the start in place of Korver and provided a spark of defensive energy that got the Hawks off to a good start.
The Hawks would soon find themselves down another All-Star after Al Horford was issued a flagrant 2 foul with 34.2 seconds remaining in the second quarter. Officials ruled that Horford delivered an elbow to the head of Cleveland's Matthew Dellavedova. The incident occurred while the two were battling for a rebound. Dellavedova falls into the legs of Horford and while it isn't clear if the intent was to injure Horford, he tries to take him out of the play with a low dangerous block below the knees. Whether the intent was there or not, it is a reckless play and the Hawks had just seen a similar situation with Dellavedova on the play that resulted in Korver's injury. It is easy to see why Horford and the Hawks would be upset.
Al Horford on whether he should have been ejected: 'No.'— Chris Vivlamore (@CVivlamoreAJC) May 25, 2015
Horford: "If it was on purpose, we don’t know. Maybe it wasn’t on purpose but with his track record, I just felt like it was."— Chris Vivlamore (@CVivlamoreAJC) May 25, 2015
Dellavedova was issued a technical foul on the play which was maddening to Hawks fans since that was an acknowledgement of his part in the scrum. The timing couldn't have been worse for Atlanta as Horford had just completed his best half of the series scoring 14 points on 7-10 shooting.
The NBA addressed the Horford ejection with lead official Ken Mauer explaining what he saw:
A suspension for Horford seems unlikely given that it remains questionable that the ejection was warranted. However, the Hawks will have to wait and see what the NBA has to say about the incident on Monday.