(Cleveland, OH) – The Atlanta Hawks traveled to Cleveland to complete the 2nd game of a back to back that pitted them against the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks came out victorious on the first night at Philips Arena vs the Boston Celtics, but of course there was no way the Hawks could travel to Cleveland without rest, take on LeBron and the Cavs and return back home with another win, right?Wrong!
The Hawks went into Quicken Loans and played like they owned the place.Coach Bud went with a completely different lineup in Cleveland. Only 10 players in rotation and none of them were starters. Paul Millsap, Dwight Howard, Dennis Schroeder, and Kent Bazemore all missed this game, but no worries.
The Hawks reserves showed up ready to ball, and that’s exactly what the did! The Cavs didn’t have an answer for this Hawks lineup for most of the 1st half.At one point in the first period the Cavs were up by 5, but the Hawks were able to tighten up, erase their deficit and take a 2 point lead of their own into the 2nd quarter by outscoring the Cavs 21-19.
The 2nd quarter was barely underway and in the blink of an eye the Hawks had already went up 30-21. Atlanta went up by 12 in the period, but the Cavs set into a little groove and went on a 9-0 run to cut the lead to 3, but the Hawks continued to play well throughout the remainder of the period and were able to take a 2 point lead into halftime. At this point the Hawks were looking like they stood a decent chance vs the best team in the East even with their stars on the bench.
This was a huge surprise to everyone.As The 3rd quarter got underway the Hawks still appeared to be in great shape to steal a win in Cleveland. The Cavs got a quick basket to tie the game at 52 a piece, then proceeded to take the lead with around 11 minutes to go in the 3rd. The Cavs held on to this lead until Mike Dunleavy made a 3 pointer with 5:33 left in the period to give the Hawks a 1 point advantage.
Both teams would battle for the lead for the rest of the 3rd but the Hawks were able to outscore the Cavs once again and went into the final period on top 83-78.This is when the real magic happened for the Hawks. Kyle Korver made a 3 pointer with 9:04 remaining on the clock to give Cleveland a 2 point lead.
Little did they know this would be the last lead they would see for the rest of this game. The Hawks proceeded to go on a spectacular 29-7 run to close out the game and get themselves a well deserved 114-110 victory vs the defending champs.The player of the game would definitely have to be Tim Hardaway Jr. Hardaway Jr had a terrific night with 22 points on 9-14 shooting in 26 minutes on the court.
Timmy had great game, but this was the definition of a team victory for the Hawks. The bench for the Hawks contributed 55 points while the Cavaliers bench only gave them 21. Mike Dunleavy went 6-9 from the floor for 20 points to help give the Hawks that extra push that would eventually win them this game.LeBron James spent 41 minutes on the floor, but his 27 points weren’t nearly enough to help his team out of the hole they had began digging as soon as this game began.
Kyrie Irving added 18 points and dished out 7 assist in the loss. The 41-38 Hawks will return home to Philips Arena to take on the 51-28 Cavaliers one more time Sunday.
By Kennan Johnson