clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Second half surge not enough as Hawks fall to 10-15 in loss to Cavaliers

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Hawks came into this game in Cleveland already at a schedule disadvantage, having played in Toronto on Wednesday and Friday then traveling back across the border to Cleveland for this second leg of a back-to-back. Then, prior to tip-off, the team learned that they would be without the services of Bogdan Bogdanovic and Clint Capela in addition to a handful of other absences.

Even with the return of De’Andre Hunter, fatigue and lack of player availability proved too much as the Hawks fell to the Cavaliers, 127-119.

Out of the gate, the Hawks just could not match Cleveland’s pace and execution. After an early Hunter triple to make it 3-2, Atlanta ceded an immediate 14-0 run to Cleveland and never again saw the lead. The early theme was an inability to match Jarrett Allen’s height and presence as a roller and rebounder.

The first points of that run came off a silly breakdown. Trae Young and Saddiq Bey can’t properly communicate whether to switch or stay, and Dean Wade gets a wide open three.

Then Allen got going in a big way. In this next one, Max Strus comes off an Allen down screen. Onyeka Okongwu is immediately put in a difficult situation having to stop Strus’ path to the rim while keeping aware of the lob threat. The result is an easy two points.

In this next clip, the Hawks try a trap when Strus gets the ball back from Allen. A quick screen and roll leaves Dejounte Murray as the only resistance for the finish.

“Jarrett Allen’s a hell of a player,” Bruno Fernando had to say after the game. “Plays hard. Does a lot of great things for them on the floor. They are a much different team when they have them going like that. So to be able to go out there and just figure out ways to get stops and help our team get in a little run was significant. But credit to him and them.”

“We’re not very big,” head coach Quin Snyder said bluntly about Atlanta’s difficulties Saturday night. “It’s a luxury at times to have length, but you’re not going to have that all the time. And really, no matter what lineup is in there, if we are giving some of that away, which everybody does at certain times, that’s where we need to be even more precise. Our margin for error, we can’t miss a block out. If the ball bounces, we’ve got to be the first one to it and try to compensate that way.”

For a moment, it looked like this game would quickly turn into a laugher, but credit the Hawks from sticking with it throughout the entirety of the 48 minutes. Even after letting the lead balloon to 23 at one point, they held serve and made it a 70-52 margin at half — setting themselves up for a chance at this game in the second half.

Atlanta went on an 11-point run in the third quarter to bring the game to 81-74 at one juncture. Bruno Fernando had 17 minutes total entering this game — essentially just garbage time minutes — but his 16 minutes last night in Capela’s absence provided a boost of energy that the team desperately needed.

Here, Young finds Fernando on a long roll and finish after being trapped above the three-point line.

Dejounte Murray had a first half to forget, but he poured in 17 of his 21 points in the second half. Below, he received an Okongwu up screen to free himself for the cut. Of course, Trae Young has the vision and passing to find him on the move.

Finally, Murray and Okongwu link up as he’s doubled on a drive to cut the lead back down to nine.

But the Hawks would never get the game within striking distance, and they fell 127-119.

Jarrett Allen finished with 25 points and 14 rebounds. Donovan Mitchell added 22 points and 13 assists as well. Trae Young finished with yet another 30 and 10 game with 35 points and 10 assists and Fernando added 13 points and eight rebounds, but it wasn’t quite enough as Atlanta never cut the lead to below six in the second half.

“The way we started the game really hurt us,” said coach Snyder. “We’ve been doing a good job at the beginning of the game for a while now. And obviously, that was spotting the team the way we did with some breakdowns defensively and then being late in a few situations, whether it be a loose ball or a rebound, we weren’t quite as urgent as we needed to be. And we found that later in the game. But difficult to overcome that particularly the first six minutes of the game.”

About the travel back-to-back, Young had to say, “it’s never easy. In this league no matter where you play, you play back-to-back. But no team should use that as an excuse because every team has to go through it. It could have played a factor early on, but we still had moments that we could have been better. And we showed what we can do in that second half.”

The loss drops the Hawks back down to 10-15 on the season. The team will now head home to prepare to take on the reeling Detroit Pistons on Monday night in State Farm Arena.