The Atlanta Hawks picked up their first win of the season in Cleveland less than 10 days ago and Lloyd Pierce’s team visited Quicken Loans Arena looking for a repeat on Tuesday evening. This time around, though, things did not go as well for the Hawks, as the Cavaliers put together an improved performance and forced Atlanta to a third consecutive loss, 136-114.
In a familiar way, the Hawks fell behind almost immediately, as the Cavs zoomed out of the gate to the tune of a 17-7 advantage. Atlanta’s struggles in the opening minutes of games have been well documented but, in this spot, the visiting team did awaken in a hurry and that was helpful.
Cleveland did push the lead (albeit briefly) to 11 points in the first quarter but the Hawks, using quality offense, were able to chip away. An 18-6 run across the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second quarter allowed Atlanta to take the lead and the two teams went back and forth for much of the first half. Prior to the buzzer at the end of the second quarter, the Cavs scored the final five points to take a one-point lead but, all things considered, it was a break-even half from the Hawks.
There were positive moments, however, as ball movement and offensive tempo were impressive throughout the half. Trae Young was a catalyst with the ball in his hands, taking advantage of Cleveland’s trapping scheme and making things happen.
Kevin Huerter played a small role but was able to take advantage of his devastating shooting stroke.
And, of course, Young used his long-range shooting to keep the defense honest.
After the break, however, things went downhill in a hurry, with the Cavs taking control on the strength of a 16-3 run to open the half. Young did his best to keep things engaged with an offensive outburst but Atlanta committed seven costly turnovers, allowing Cleveland to build a comfortable, double-digit lead.
There were bright spots, including DeAndre’ Bembry and Vince Carter getting to the rim.
And Young set the table beautifully for Alex Len on multiple occasions.
Though some optimism existed after the Hawks closed with 12 at the end of the third, the comeback never materialized. By the midpoint of the fourth quarter, the deficit ballooned to 19 and, from there, it was virtually academic on the way to the 22-point final margin.
Young led the way for the Hawks, generating 24 points (on 9 of 13 shooting) and four assists in 31 minutes of action. In support, Len was unfathomably efficient (9 of 9 shooting, six dunks) on the way to 22 points and nine rebounds, while Jeremy Lin enjoyed his best game of the season with 12 points and eight assists.
The Hawks will return home for a date with the Sacramento Kings on Thursday evening. Stay tuned.