Who?: Atlanta Hawks (18-9) at Cleveland Cavaliers (7-24)
What?: Hawks outlast Cavaliers 102-94
Where?: Quicken Loans Arena (Cleveland, OH)
When?: Friday, Dec. 28, 2012
How?: Fourth quarter dominance
Jeff Teague scored a career-high 27 points as the Atlanta Hawks came away with a tight 102-94 road victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night, extending their winning-streak to three straight.
Cleveland’s young dynamic backcourt of Kryie Irving and Dion Waiters caused chaos for Atlanta the entire night as the duo combined for 46 points, 12 rebounds, 9 assists, and 7 steals overall.
Irving led the way with 28/6/5 and Waiters chipped in with 18/6/4. Tyler Zeller (12), Alonzo Gee (10), and C.J. Miles (10) also scored in double figures.
Jeff Teague provided the bulk of the offense for the Hawks with 27 points and eight assists (both team-high’s). Reserve forward Anthony Tolliver topped his season-high with 11 points — in the second quarter. He finished with a new season best of 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
Lou Williams made his third consecutive start and played a game-high 40 minutes in the victory chipping in with 16 points, five boards and four assists. Al Horford added a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds while Kyle Korver rounded out the double-digit scorers with 11 points. Korver stuffed the stat sheet tonight with five boards, three steals, three blocks and two assists.
Josh Smith had a horrific game as he finished with seven points on 2-of-12 shooting (16.6%) overall while only grabbing six rebounds. In Smoove’s defense though, he did post six assists and five blocks.
Atlanta came out of the gate on a 8-0 run but Cleveland came back in a flash and claimed an 11-10 advantage at the 5:22 mark in the first quarter. Both teams traded buckets in the remaining time with Cleveland ending the first period leading 26-25.
The Hawks caught fire early in the second quarter and built a 50-39 lead with 3:49 left in the half but the Cavs came storming back and end the period on a 15-5 run capped off by an acrobatic 3-point buzzer beater by Kyrie that’s sure to be on tonight’s SportsCenter Top 10 Highlights.
Cleveland jumped out to a 68-59 lead after halftime and finished the third quarter up 80-75.
Then Atlanta turned it on in the fourth quarter.
Thanks to tough defense and clutch shot making, the Hawks outscored the Cavs 27-14 in the final period en route to a 102-94 victory. Kyle Korver nailed a 3-pointer dagger to put the Hawks up 100-94 with 1:21 remaining and Al Horford sank a pair of foul-shots down the stretch to secure the win.
The Atlanta Hawks (18-9) head back home to play the Indiana Pacers (17-12) on Saturday, Dec. 29, at 7:00 PM (ET).
The game at times swung back in forth between double digits lead for both teams but was mainly a nail-biter. The Hawks were able to finally pull away late in the fourth for a 102-94 victory.
The Hawks started fast, getting out to a quick 8-0 lead but the Cavaliers answered with a 11-2 run that cause Larry Drew to take a quick timeout. Josh Smith had 4 jumpers, hitting only 1, and 4 turnovers in the first 7 minutes.
Dion Waiters got off to a hot start, disposing of any defensive effort from Lou Williams to the tune of 9 points in the first 9 minutes.
Without Anderson Varejao, the Cavs were dependent on their guards, mainly Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving, to take control of the game. Kyrie Irving came into tonight averaging 22 points, 7 assists and 4.7 rebounds in three career games against the Hawks on 58.8% shooting (38.5% from three point). Though Waiters faded after a hot first quarter, Irving finished 12-20, including 4-7 from beyond the arc, for 28 points.
Larry Drew tinkered with the rotation since the Hawks were missing both Devin Harris (foot) and Ivan Johnson (illness). Mike Scott and Anthony Tolliver joined Zaza Pachulia to comprise the second team front court in the second half while Anthony Morrow entered in the second quarter with DeShawn Stevenson sitting the first game of the back-to-back. John Jenkins even came into the game in the fourth quarter after Morrow reported an injury at halftime. The first year player out of Vanderbilt promptly hit a runner off the glass upon hitting the court and added a three pointer.
Tolliver came into tonight with 47 points through the Hawks first 28 games, shooting only 13% from behind the arc, but hit two corner threes in the second quarter as well as two other long jumpers. Jeff Teague continued his aggressive streak started toward the end of the Pistons game by hitting getting to the bucket with ease and knocking down a few threes.
After a 14-3 Hawks run in the second quarter, the Thompson and Zeller were able to put in some easy buckets throughout the quarter to close the gap. Kyrie Irving cut the lead to one with a buzzer beating 35 foot off balance shot that brought the fans of Quicken Loans Arena to their feet. Despite seemingly outplaying the Cavs in the first half, the box score read a similar tale for both sides: a 55-54 score, 52.4% shooting to 47.7% (60% to 50% from three), 20-19 rebounding and 6 turnovers a piece.
The Cavaliers came out of the tunnel after half on fire with a decided attempt to get to the rim while the Hawks mostly settled for jump shots. The result was a 12-2 Cavalier run until a Teague three pointer cause Byron Scott to call a timeout. A couple of Kyle Korver threes and a Teague jumper with the clock winding down brought the Hawks all the way back from a 10 point deficit in the third quarter.
Zaza Pachulia and Al Horford played the entire fourth quarter and helped solidify the post defense to hold the Cavaliers to only 14 points in the deciding quarter, while adding 8 points of their own. A dagger three pointer from Korver stretched out the lead to 6 points with 80 seconds to go to give the Atlanta Hawks the win.
Josh Smith cannot have many, if any, more games like this if he aspires to be an All Star for the first time this season. To the right is his shot chart from tonight. His always outstanding defense could not come close to making up for 6 turnovers and 2-12 shooting. Many of the shots were not of the “bail-out” variety but rather long attempts with 10 second or more on the clock. This is not to say his 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 blocks in 27 minutes are not appreciated, but his shooting numbers have continually disappointed, especially for a forward, since coming into the league in 2004.
Josh Smith had a sore hip-flexor in the fourth quarter, according to Larry Drew in the postgame press conferences, so the fact that Josh sat out at the end may not have been because of his, to put it lightly, poor play.
The Hawks have certainly built a reputation of failing to put away worse opponents early in the game and did the same tonight in Cleveland. The Pacers are playing well as of late and the Hawks must refocus in less than 24 hours to take on a surprisingly tough opponent.
1. Jeff Teague: This one is very obvious. Clearly the chat he had with Larry Drew at halftime of the game with the 76ers hit home with Jeff, as he posted a career high 27 points on 19 shots, including 3 made three pointers, and 8 assists. He was aggressive early and often, carving up Kyrie Irving’s questionable pick and roll defense.
2. Kyle Korver: In addition to Korver’s normally automatic shooting numbers, he filled up the box score by adding 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 blocks and 2 assists as well as tough defense on Alonzo Gee and Luke Walton (3-13 combined shooting). While those two are not exactly the guys that strike fear in any coach gameplanning ahead of the matchup, it was important to limit the damage to only what Kyrie Irving inflicted to have a chance at the win.
3. Anthony Tolliver: Surprised? The 13 points were the most he’s had since March of this year with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He lived up to his “stretch power forward” billing by knocking down two three pointers and two other long jumpers. His spark was much needed without Ivan Johnson to terrorized the young Cavalier players tonight.
Minutes: Lou Williams (41)
Points: Kyrie Irving (28)
Rebounds: Al Horford (11)
Assists: Jeff Teague (8)
Steals: Kyrie Irving (4)
Blocks: Josh Smith (5)
Jeff Teague: A+
Teague went blow for blow with one of the league’s premier point guards in Kyrie Irving, and he looked good doing it. He finished with a career-high 27 points and dropped off 8 dimes. He may not have a Pepsi commercial, but Teague is for real.
Lou Williams: A-
Lou is starting to find his groove in Atlanta and Larry Drew is taking notice. As a starter he tossed in 16 points on 6-12 shooting and shot a sizzling 4-6 from deep. He did have five turnovers, but he did spend some time facilitating the offense with rookies on the floor. So that was obviously a contributing factor in that regard.
Kyle Korver: B+
Obviously this grading scale is relative to each players role, but Korver could very well deserve this grade by any measure. Because although he did so quietly, his 11 points on 4-7 shooting coupled with his three steals and three blocks had a lasting impression on both ends of the floor.
Josh Smith: C+
Five blocks, but 2-12 shooting. Six assists, but five turnovers. Josh Smith is just a giant but, who’s butt was on the bench in the game’s closing minutes. His production is an anomaly, his decision making an enigma.. this game left a lot of food for though. A lot.
Al Horford: A
Once you’ve finished skimming through my ramblings, please take the time to cast a voe for Horford in this year’s All-Star ballot. He deserves it. That said, it was just another classic Al night, as he posted 14 points on 6-11 shooting, 11 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks. His stability has been, and will continue to be, the foundation for the Hawks success this season. Tonight was just further proof of that.
Anthony Tolliver: B+
Okay, so apparently there’s another Anthony on the Hawks roster capable of having outbursts. Tolliver finished with 13 points on 5-7 shooting, hauled in four boards and even managed a block. Don’t worry, I’m just as baffled as you are.
Zaza Pachulia: B-
Obviously you want more than seven rebounds in 25 minutes from Pachulia, but his 5-6 from the line left his entire performance glowing as far as I’m concerned.
Player of the Game
A few days ago Hawks head coach Larry Drew told Teague he needed to play with energy — Teague responded with a career-high 27 points and led Atlanta to their third straight win.
The Hawks head back home to host the Indiana Pacers Saturday Dec. 29, at 7:00 PM (ET).
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