To those who missed this game due to holiday travel, I’m so sorry. You missed an epic battle between tough Eastern Conference teams and a pair of All Star-worthy point guards. Jeff Teague and the Atlanta Hawks outlasted Kyrie Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-125 in 2 OT.
For most of regulation, the game was a sloppy affair with both sides committing many turnovers. Millsap continued his best Reggie Miller impression by hitting an early first quarter three. He finished 2-4 from long range as part of his 20 point, 11 rebound night. His passing from the low post, however, was far from precise, and as a result he finished with 6 costly turnovers.
On a somber note, Al Horford and DeMarre Carroll both left the game early with unrelated injuries. Carroll appear to get caught on a Tyler Zeller screen, and went down by the scorer’s table holding his hand. It turned out to be a sprained thumb, so hopefully it won’t knock him out for long as the Hawks are thin on wing depth. Horford was fighting with Anderson Varejão on an inbound pass and took an elbow to his torso. He left the game with what was called a shoulder injury.
The real action begin after the 48 minutes had elapsed, as neither side even logged a point in the final minute of regulation. Paul Millsap was responsible for Atlanta’s first 8 points in that period, behind his low post dominance. With 12 second left, the Hawks found themselves down by a point, needing to foul. Rookie Matthew Dellavedova calmly hit all four of his free throws, sandwiched by an open Teague layup to leave the Hawks down by 3 with 6 second to go. Pero Antic, resident inbounder, would find Teague coming off a double screen and Jeff buried a long triple to send the game to double overtime.
Kyrie Irving had 18 of his 40 point after regulation. His bevy of step back and pull up jumpers almost put the game out of reach on multiple occasions. Once again, in the second overtime just like the rest of the game, the Hawks three point shooting came through. They set a franchise high 6th straight game with 10 threes, although they needed the overtime sessions to do so.
Irving led the second overtime with 5 straight points, as part of an 11 point output. Not to be outdone, some clever ball movement freed up the corner for Pero Antic to bury a three, with a segment of Cleveland resident Macedonia supporters cheering him on. Soon after, Korver reminded Hawks fans of Jamal Crawford by completing a four point play with a shot from the top of the arc and followed that up with a three from the same spot the next possession.
It would then become the Jeff Teague show again. After trading blows with Irving all night long, Jeff would have the last laugh. A three point play came about by drawing a low post foul from Tristan Thompson with a minute left. Irving sleekly came down the court and buried an 18 foot jumper from the elbow to tie the game up with 55 second to play. A Hawks offensive rebound and a jump ball gone out of bounds gave Atlanta the ball with less than 24 seconds to play.
Then came the last of Teague’s heroics. He was able to draw Thompson on a switch off of a pick and terrorized the Cavalier big man once more. His step back jumper as time expired drew a lot of iron but finally fell through the net, sealing the win for the Hawks.
The Hawks could only take moral victories from Monday’s overtime loss to the Heat. Tonight, they can mark one up in each of the moral and actually victory columns. Despite the presence of Andrew Bynum, Anderson Varejão, and Tristan Thompson, the Hawks were able to draw just about even on the rebounding battle. In addition, the Hawks dished out 33 assists on 51 made field goals, keeping in line with the blistering pace they have set in that regard this season.
Next game is at home Saturday at 7:30 EST against the Charlotte Bobcats.
1. Jeff Teague: Weren’t expecting this one, were you? 34 big points from all over the court. His floater in the lane has become such a lethal weapon, Danny Glover wants to star in yet another sequel to the series.
2. Jeff Teague: He attacks the rim so well that many forget he is one of the top distributing point guards in the league. He doled out 14 dimes and pushed the pace on transition opportunities. The elder Teague has really become a well-rounded player in this league and there’s only more room to grow.
3. Jeff Teague: Who is this guy? He was clutch on so many occasions this game. There were the key and one opportunities driving into the lane and fighting off contact, as well as long twos and threes, despite having a down year shooting from that range. There’s no reason we shouldn’t see Jeff in New Orleans this coming February.