December 18, 2014

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Cavaliers’ playoff hopes in trouble after loss to Hawks

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Jarrett Jack shoots as he falls down with the ball against the Atlanta Hawks, Friday in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Jarrett Jack shoots as he falls down with the ball against the Atlanta Hawks, Friday in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

ATLANTA — A hot-shooting night put the Atlanta Hawks back in sole possession of a playoff spot.

Poor shooting cost the Cleveland Cavaliers in a game they desperately needed.

Mike Scott ended a scoring slump with 26 points and the Hawks beat Cleveland 117-98 Friday night in a costly setback for the Cavaliers’ late-season playoff push.

Atlanta moved one game ahead of the New York Knicks, who lost to Washington 90-89, in the race for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Hawks had lost seven of eight but recovered with strong games by Scott and Jeff Teague, who had 20 points and 12 assists.

“All year and under a lot of difference circumstances we’ve said we like our group and they’re resilient,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said.

“They played with a lot of focus and effort and attention to detail and all the things we really talk about every night.”

Cavs coach Mike Brown was unhappy to see his team struggle with so much on the line.

“They kicked our behind from the beginning to the end,” Brown said.

The Cavaliers lost an opportunity to move within a game of eighth place. Entering the game, Cleveland had won five of six but fell three games behind the Hawks with only five games remaining in the regular season.

Brown was discouraged but stopped short of saying the Cavaliers couldn’t recover from the loss.

“No, it doesn’t feel like it’s over but the loss is very, very disappointing,” Brown said. “The way we lost it looked like we weren’t playing for much out there.”

Dion Waiters led Cleveland with 23 points. Spencer Hawes had 16 points and 10 rebounds and Kyrie Irving and Luol Deng each had 13 points.

Scott made 12 of 13 shots from the field. The backup forward had a combined 16 points in his past four games. He topped that with 18 in the first half.

“Finally,” Scott said. “I was in a little shooting slump. I just kept being aggressive and kept getting extra shots and they finally fell.”

The Hawks set a season high with 39 first-quarter points, made 58.5 percent of their shots from the field and never trailed. Atlanta led 39-23 after the first period.

“The start that we got off to was something that was important,” Budenholzer said. “Defensively, I thought we had a good first quarter. I think that kind of fueled our offense and our ball movement a little bit, taking care of the ball. That gave us the cushion that we were able to keep the rest of the game.”

The Hawks had 35 assists, three short of their season high.

The Cavs made only 5 of 21 3-pointers and shot 39.6 percent from the field overall while playing from behind the entire game.

“They jumped on us early,” said Cleveland’s Jarrett Jack, who had nine points. “They dictated how this game was going to be played. We were playing an uphill battle all game.”

The Hawks had six 3-pointers in the big first quarter and 13 for the game.

Atlanta committed nine turnovers in the second quarter, but Cleveland still outscored the Hawks only 26-22 in the period and trailed 61-49 at halftime.

As Cleveland opened the second half going almost five minutes without a field goal, Teague took over for Atlanta. Teague had nine points in the third period, including three straight baskets and a driving layup to beat the buzzer at the end of the period.

Teague added two 3-pointers in the last three minutes as the Cavaliers never mounted a serious challenge.

Notable

The Hawks completed a sweep of the three-game series.

* After missing one game with a sore right shoulder, Cavs C Anderson Varejao had nine points and five rebounds in 27 minutes.

* Irving played his second game after missing eight games with a torn bicep muscle.

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Hawks 117, Cavaliers 98

CLEVELAND (98): Deng 4-13 5-6 13, Thompson 2-3 4-4 8, Hawes 6-14 3-4 16, Irving 6-15 1-2 13, Waiters 8-19 4-4 23, Varejao 3-8 3-4 9, Dellavedova 1-3 0-0 2, Jack 4-13 0-0 9, Gee 2-3 1-1 5. Totals 36-91 21-25 98.
ATLANTA (117): Carroll 5-10 0-0 13, Millsap 7-10 1-2 16, Antic 2-5 2-2 6, Teague 7-12 3-4 20, Korver 3-9 0-0 8, Brand 4-7 0-0 8, Williams 6-9 1-1 16, Scott 12-13 1-1 26, Schroder 1-5 0-0 2, Muscala 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 48-82 8-10 117.
Cleveland 23 26 24 25 — 98
Atlanta 39 22 29 27 — 117
3-Point Goals—Cleveland 5-21 (Waiters 3-5, Hawes 1-3, Jack 1-6, Dellavedova 0-1, Irving 0-3, Deng 0-3), Atlanta 13-29 (Williams 3-5, Teague 3-5, Carroll 3-7, Korver 2-6, Scott 1-1, Millsap 1-1, Antic 0-2, Schroder 0-2). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Cleveland 41 (Hawes 10), Atlanta 54 (Millsap 11). Assists—Cleveland 16 (Hawes, Irving 4), Atlanta 35 (Teague 12). Total Fouls—Cleveland 18, Atlanta 17. A—16,210 (18,729).

TONIGHT
WHO: Cleveland vs. Charlotte
TIME: 7:30
WHERE: The Q
TV/RADIO: FS Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM