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Atlanta Hawks fall to Cleveland Cavaliers as Donovan Mitchell shines

Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks lost a road game to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night. Playing without Jalen Johnson for the second time this season, the defense was not commendable.

The Hawks and Cavaliers played relatively evenly throughout the first quarter, though defensive lapses started early for the Hawks. The Cavs scored their first 12 points in the paint, and they weren’t well defended.

However, such lapses were offset by the offense early on. Dejounte Murray made two three-pointers, while Bogdanovic and Young each added one of their own.

After one quarter of play, the Hawks led the Cavaliers 33-29. They forced five turnovers, and the Cavaliers started just 1-for-7 from three-point range.

In the second quarter, it seemed as if the Hawks were taking control of the game. With the Cavs stringing together offensive misses, the Hawks capitalized. With just under nine minutes remaining in the quarter, a steal-and-score from Saddiq Bey capped a 12-2 run for the Hawks, forcing the Cavs to call a timeout.

The Hawks held an eight-point lead, 51-43, after two scores from De’Andre Hunter with close to six minutes remaining in the quarter. At this point, Hunter injured his finger attempting to take a charge on Georges Niang. He exited to the locker room before returning in the second half. Nonetheless, his injury proved to be a turning point in the game.

The Cavs immediately went on a 17-2 run, turning the game on its head. Their largest lead in the quarter was six, and 23 points over the last six minutes of play gave them a 64-61 halftime lead. Bogdanovic made three of his six three-point attempts in the half, scoring 13 points, while Hunter and Capela each contributed 10. On the other end, Donovan Mitchell’s 17 points led the way, with Evan Mobley’s 13 not far behind. The Hawks had just four turnovers to the Cavaliers’ ten, a significant reason they were able to take an early lead.

The Hawks began to falter in the third quarter as the Cavs successfully made shots. The deficit was extended to 15 by midway through the third quarter. Donovan Mitchell proved to be a problem throughout the entire game, pouring on 23 second-half points to bring his game total to 40. He was especially detrimental to the Hawks in the third quarter, scoring in every way possible. The Hawks made a push at the deficit late in the third, cutting it to just six points with an and-one from Onyeka Okongwu.

However, mounting any comeback is nearly impossible when you don’t make your opponent work for their points. Defensive lapses were far too common, and it is reflected in the points in the paint column.

Darius Garland made a 30-foot three-pointer to close the quarter, extending the lead to 12 going into the fourth. The Hawks missed six of their first eight attempts, shooting just 4-for-27 in the entire quarter. On the other hand, the Cavs shot 10-of-26 from the field in the fourth quarter. With a few minutes remaining in the quarter and a 23-point deficit, Quin Snyder waived the white flag. Trent Forrest, AJ Griffin, Wes Matthews, Garrison Mathews, and Bruno Fernando finished the game from then on.

The game ended 128-105 in favor of the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs amassed an impressive 12 blocks and 64 points in the paint compared to the Hawks’ 32. Donovan Mitchell’s 40 points came with 23 on 9-for-15 shooting from the field in the second half. Aside from Mitchell, the Cavs saw six other players in double-digit scoring.

Dejounte Murray and Trae Young combined for just 14-for-44 from the field, and the lack of shot-making was highlighted by poor team defense. The Hawks had seven players in double figures. They allowed 128 points to an offense averaging just 110.8 points per game, 22nd best in the NBA before last night’s matchup. The Hawks shot just 35-for-101 from the field and 13-for-44 from three. In short, the offense was not enough to overcome the defense.

After the game, Clint Capela spoke to De’Andre Hunter’s injury in the second quarter.

Capela continued, noting the importance of keeping energy levels high throughout the whole game, insisting that is something the Hawks need to improve upon.

Quin Snyder spoke to collective execution, as well as withstanding runs. He noted that the Hawks brought it to a close game in the third quarter, and they need to be better at that point in the game.

This loss brings the Hawks to 8-9 on the season.