The Atlanta Hawks exorcised some demons Tuesday night with a 110-106 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers snapping an 11-game losing streak dating back to the 2015 playoffs.
Neither team was able to get an advantage early but the Hawks took control late in the half with a 22-6 run to go up 53-42 at halftime. Atlanta would push the lead to as many as 18 points in the third before Cleveland would mount a comeback.
A three-pointer by J.R. Smith cut Atlanta’s lead to just two points at 81-79 with just 6.7 seconds remaining in the third. The Hawks pushed the ball into the frontcourt and were rewarded as Kent Bazemore was fouled by Iman Shumpert with just 0.9 remaining. Bazemore converted all three free throws and Atlanta took an 84-79 advantage into the fourth.
The Hawks got off to a quick start in the fourth with a 10-2 spurt to push the lead back to 13. However, the Cavaliers wouldn’t go away. A three-pointer by LeBron James with 47 seconds remaining cut Atlanta’s lead to 106-103. Paul Millsap answered at the other end to push the lead back to five.
Kevin Love then got loose on an inbounds play under the basket for a layup plus the foul. The three-point play cut the Hawks advantage to just two points at 108-106 with 25.2 seconds remaining. The Cavaliers attempted to trap the Hawks on their final possession as Bazemore found himself free for a jumper on the baseline to ice the game.
Dennis Schröder came up big for the Hawks with a career-best 28 points to go along with six assists. Bazemore finished with 25 points while Millsap added 21. Mike Muscala gave Atlanta a lift off the bench with 10 points including a nasty put back slam that resulted in a hard fall in the second quarter. The Hawks shot 51 percent from the field for the game and converted 11 of 29 three-point attempts.
Kyrie Irving led all scorers with 29 points. Kevin Love added 24 points while LeBron James finished with 23. Cleveland shot just 37 percent from the field and were 11 of 42 from three-point range.
In the grand scheme of things, a win over the Cavaliers in November doesn’t mean much if anything. But for a Hawks team that had lost 11 straight to Cleveland, it had to feel good to get that monkey off their back.