For the second game in a row, the Hawks were without the services of Danilo Gallinari along with Onyeka Okongwu, leaving Atlanta thin in their big man corps. But the Hawks were looking to build off a strong start and grab a win in their first road contest of the season.
Conversely, the Cavaliers were missing guard Darius Garland. Ricky Rubio took his spot in the starting lineup alongside Collin Sexton and three other 7-footers in a unique lineup strategy from Cleveland.
It was a mildly ragged affair from the jump, with neither side seizing momentum. Trae Young had nine early points in the first quarter, including this triple which represented his 500th in his young career.
The Hawks found themselves in immediate foul trouble, with Bogdan Bogdanovic picking up two in the first five minutes and Solomon Hill racking up two more by the end of the first period.
In the second quarter, the Hawks bench unit stretched out the lead to double digits behind smothering defense and hot shooting behind the arc. Atlanta started out hitting 6-of-12 (50%) from three, including from the hot shooting center Gorgui Dieng.
Cleveland made a late 10-2 run to end the first half, bringing the Hawks lead down to just 3, 55-52. The foul trouble continued in short order after the halftime break, with John Collins tallying his fourth foul just seconds into the third quarter.
The Cavaliers continued their hot streak across the break, jumping out to an 11-point lead. The Hawks could not quite claw back in that period, and a Trae Young technical foul for jawing with the ref underlined the frustration the team had been feeling through 36 minutes of play.
Entering the fourth quarter with a sizeable deficit staring them in the face, the Hawks turned to Cam Reddish to jump start the bench offense. A personal 6-0 run from Reddish and a nifty Delon Wright hesitation off a feigned dribble-handoff brought lead down to just five points.
Behind by nine points halfway through the fourth quarter and the starters into the game, Atlanta used defensive stops to race down the floor for buckets. Atlanta closed to within three points at one point.
With the team separated by just five, the Hawks had a chance to pull to within two with just under 30 seconds left in the contest. A De’Andre Hunter three ball went begging, however, and off the rebound, a Cam Reddish turnaround two-pointer fell way short, essentially sealing the fate of the game.
Trae Young finished with 24 points on 8-for-22 shooting to go with seven assists, and Cam Reddish added 19 points on 14 shots. Shots just weren’t falling for Atlanta in key moments, and going just 9-for-15 (60%) from the free throw problem additionally doomed them. Atlanta will look to put this game behind them with a home contest against the Detroit Pistons on Monday, October 25.