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Hawks fall to Cavs 96-91 on second leg of back-to-back

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A game of two halves.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Atlanta Hawks Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks returned to State Farm Arena on Saturday night to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers. Atlanta split games with the Brooklyn Nets in a mini-series that spanned three days.

The Cleveland Cavaliers (4-2) downed the Atlanta Hawks (4-2) by a score of 96-91.

Atlanta was once again without key players Danilo Gallinari and Rajon Rondo, and they could have used their veteran scoring and playmaking abilities in this game.

De’Andre Hunter picked up right where he left off on Friday night, where he scored 23 points on 9-of-10 shooting against the Nets. Hunter was extremely aggressive and involved in the offense early in the game. He kicked off his night with a monster slam on Andre Drummond.

Hunter was also not afraid to let his shots fly. He fearlessly drilled a pull-up 3-pointer- a shot that young players may be afraid to take.

Hunter finished the first quarter with 12 points, which led all scorers. Trae Young was right behind him with nine points and three assists.

The Hawks played a really clean opening quarter. The team only committed two total fouls and had zero turnovers in the period.

The quarter started out with a lot of back-and-forth scoring and limited defense, but the Hawks went on an 11-4 run towards the end of the quarter to command the lead. The Hawks led the Cavaliers 35-25 at the end of the first quarter.

The Hawks played well in the first quarter, but did not have that crazy 40-point quarter that we’ve seen them pull of a couple of times this year. The second quarter was involved even less scoring. The Hawks totaled seven points in the first six minutes of the second period.

A good sign for the Hawks was that they played well defensively. Cam Reddish in particular was all over the place on the defensive side of the ball.

Clint Capela had a spectacular second quarter. At the half, his totals were 12 points and 10 rebounds- six of those coming on the offensive end. He also added two steals to the stat sheet.

The Hawks rounded out a defensive quarter with a halftime lead of 56-44. Atlanta only scored 21 points in the period, but held the Cavaliers to 19 points.

Young did not get on the board in the second quarter, but he did add four assists, totaling seven for him at the half.

Capela opened up the third quarter with a carryover of his second quarter play. He scored the first four points of the half for the Hawks and added a block in the opening minutes of the period.

He continued to clean the glass as well. With 7:54 left in the third, Capela reached seven offensive and seven defensive rebounds, totaling 14 in just 20 minutes of play.

For the majority of the first-three quarters, the Hawks maintained a lead of around 10 points. However, the Hawks were seemingly gassed as the quarter waned on.

The Cavaliers outscored the Hawks 18-7 in the final 6:31 of the period to cut the lead to just four points. That run has more to do with the Hawks’ inability to score and less to do with the offensive prowess of the Cavaliers.

Atlanta went almost four minutes during that run without scoring a basket. Gallinari and Rondo were missed in this period as Bruno Fernando, Brandon Goodwin and Solomon Hill were not very effective. The Hawks led the Cavaliers 74-70 heading into the final quarter.

The Cavaliers started the fourth quarter by scoring the first six points and taking their first lead since the opening two minutes of the game. They overtook the lead to make it 76-74 with 9:45 to go in the game, forcing head coach Lloyd Pierce to take his first timeout of the quarter.

The Hawks quickly scored off of a Kevin Huerter jump shot on Atlanta’s first possession after that timeout to tie the game. The Cavaliers took an 84-83 lead with 5:29 left and held onto that until Bogdan Bogdanovic nailed a clutch 3-pointer with 48.2 left in the game.

Collin Sexton came back with a three of his own, giving Cleveland a 91-88 lead with 29.9 left in the contest, forcing the Hawks to call another timeout. After a late foul attempts by Atlanta, the Cavaliers held on for the 96-91 victory.

Capela had his best game as an Atlanta Hawk and led the way on the glass. He recorded 16 points, 16 rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Young had his lowest point total of the season. He finished with 16 points and 10 assists, recording his second double-double of the year.

This game turned out to be a grinder for the Hawks, and they just couldn’t come up with the win in the end. This was their lowest scoring output of the season.

The Hawks will remain in Atlanta for a matchup against the New York Knicks on Monday.