After an encouraging start from Kent Bazemore and the Atlanta Hawks, the team quickly went cold as LeBron James and Kyrie Irving dominated their way to a convincing 109-94 win for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
James had 34 points, six rebounds, and six assists on 13-16 shooting, while Irving added 35 points on 28 shots.
Atlanta failed to cut the Cavs' lead to any less than 13 points in the fourth quarter. After James played more than 32 minutes in the first three quarters alone, he was able to rest the entirety of the fourth period as Irving and company protected the lead on their way to a stress-free victory.
The game got off to a wonderful start for Atlanta as the Hawks got out to a quick 10-0 run in the first 150 seconds of the game. Bazemore knocked down two three-pointers and a layup to account for eight of the 10 points. He finished with 10 points in the period. Cleveland would bounce back, though. It used a 10-4 run to end the quarter to go into the second quarter trailing 26-22. The Cavs knocked down four of their eight attempts from beyond the arc, while the Hawks made just two of six in the quarter.
Bazemore continued his hot shooting in the second quarter as he added three more three-pointers on his way to an 11-point quarter. His 21 points at halftime were a career-high for a half. Due to tweak to his knee, Bazemore was very limited in the second half and added only two more points to his total. The Hawks led 40-37 with 5:43 remaining in the half, but the Cavs went on a 14-5 run to, once again, close the quarter strong, and Cleveland headed to the locker room with a 51-45 lead. James played more than 22 minutes in the half.
In the third quarter, the Cavs began to pull away from Atlanta, thanks to a 17-point effort from James in the period. After an Al Horford layup with 4:56 remaining in the quarter cut the Hawks' deficit to five points, Cleveland went on a 15-3 run to give the Cavs an 88-71 lead -- their largest of the game. Atlanta entered the final period trailing 90-75.
Bazemore, Horford, and Jeff Teague combined for 64 points on 27-45 shooting. The rest of the Hawks combined for just 30 points on 12-42 shooting. No other Hawk reached double figures. Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver, and Dennis Schroder were the center of the struggles as they combined to shoot just 6-27 from the field.
The Hawks as a team shot 44.8 percent from the field and made only eight of their 30 attempts from beyond the arc. At just 8-15 from the free throw line, they were a -10 from the charity stripe compared to Cleveland.
Atlanta will remain in the third seed slot thanks to a Charlotte win over Boston. Miami will have a chance to match the Hawks' 48-33 record on Tuesday against the Pistons, while the Hornets and Celtics are currently tied at 47-34.
The regular season will be concluded on Wednesday as the Hawks head to Washington to face the Wizards as their postseason placement will be determined. Stay tuned for more.