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Hawks fall to Cavaliers late in preseason home opener, 99-96

NBA: Preseason-Cleveland Cavaliers at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks and the Cleveland Cavaliers met in a preseason tilt that looked to showcase each team’s young talent. The Hawks headlined State Farm Arena for the first time of the 2021-22 campaign without a number of important players.

The Hawks started with Delon Wright, Kevin Huerter, De’Andre Hunter, John Collins and Gorgui Dieng. The Cavaliers countered with a youthful starting lineup of Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, Isaac Okoro, Even Mobley and Jarrett Allen.

Kevin Huerter opened the Hawks scoring with a corner three.

Without the services of both Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu, Gorgui Dieng manned the center position for the majority of the game. Here’s Dieng with a steal and dime.

Cam Reddish was certainly involved early and often in the offense to less than stellar at best results, but did throw down this jam.

Kevin Huerter continued his stellar play from the second half of last season by pouring in 12 first half points. Gorgui Dieng also impressed with four points, four rebounds, and a number of dazzling dishes from the big man. A number of Hawks struggled with their shot in the first half, however, with Delon Wright, Cam Reddish, Skylar Mays and Jalen Johnson combining for 4-of-22 shooting from the field or 18.2%.

Delon Wright would be held out of the second half with a left ankle tweak per the Hawks with Skylar Mays taking his place at the point guard spot.

De’Andre Hunter put the clamps on Ricky Rubio early in the second half with a statement block below.

Cam Reddish heated up in the third quarter, hitting three threes in a row at one point and getting the crowd into the game.

Sharife Cooper got some late run in the second half, and the Hawks needed it in a surprisingly close contest down the stretch. In relief of Skylar Mays, Cooper brought energy and timely dishes to teammates, logging five assists in just 17 minutes of play. He was also assist man for this outrageous John Collins dunk over a terrified Jarrett Allen:

After a Cavaliers turnover, the Hawks received the ball with 33.5 seconds down 95-94 and a chance to send the crowd home happy. However, a Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot corner three went begging and an offensive rebound and putback by De’Andre Hunter came up short. Similarly, after two made free throws by Darius Garland, Cam Reddish had a shot to tie the game with a long triple with under 10 seconds but it went awry.

Reddish was the high man in points, with 20 of them on 17 shots behind a hot shooting third quarter. Elsewhere, Kevin Huerter finished with 15 points on 6-of-10 (60%) shooting and John Collins added 14 points, 8 rebounds, and one internet-breaking dunk.

There were certainly preseason jitters and sloppy play with 19 turnovers totaled tonight for Atlanta. The Hawks couldn’t contain paint penetration by budding star guard Collin Sexton. He torched Atlanta for 19 points. The Hawks were also victim of the shot blocking prowess of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen five time.

Still there were many moments of good stretches of play from the young Atlanta players. They’ll look to find consistency as the Hawks take on the Grizzlies in Memphis on Saturday.