Shorthanded Cavaliers shoot down Hawks 127-119 
            BY TIM SHIRER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - The Cleveland Cavaliers (13-12, 6-6 home) hobbled home on Saturday night from a four game road trip where they went 1-3, dropping the last three games and getting riddled by the injury bug. Saturday night it did not get any easier as they took on the Atlanta Hawks (10-14, 7-7 road). The matchup was the second between the two teams with the Cavs winning the first at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on November 28 128-105. The Hawks lead the all-time series 129-111, but the Cavaliers lead the series in Cleveland (Cleveland Arena, Richfield Coliseum, RMFH) 71-52.

The Cavs entered the game short of two all-stars, point guard Darius Garland (jaw fracture) and Evan Mobley (knee). Garland will miss at least the next four weeks and Mobley will be out minimum of six to eight weeks. The Cavs will be playing with 40% of their starters missing and have already had games missed by Isaac Okoro, Jarrett Allen, Dean Wade, Caris LeVert, and Donovan Mitchell. Proof that the Browns are not the only Cleveland team dealing with injuries lately. But the Cavs made no excuses as they had nine players score and six in double figures as they shot down the Hawks 127-119 on Pride Night.

The Cavs took an early 7-3 lead on a thunder dunk by Jarrett Allen on a nice pass from Max Struss with 10:09 left in the first quarter. The Cavs lead was extended to 11-3 when Allen hit a shot from outside with 9:10 left. Just 24 seconds later the Cavs lead ballooned to 14-3 when Dean Wade hit a three on a nice pass from Donovan Mitchell with 8:46 left in the opening quarter. In the early moments of the contest, it looked as though Allen realized he had to step up and make up for the absence of Mobley. The Cavs continued to build their lead on another dunk by Allen with 8:03 left giving the Cavs a 16-3 lead. He then gave the Cavs a 20-6 lead with a layup on another assist by Strus with 6:45 remaining in the quarter. Allen looked like a man on a mission scoring his 13 & 14th points of the quarter with 5:25 left on a layup from Mitchell to give the Cavs a 24-11 lead. Then Caris LeVert got into the act cutting through the lane with a layup to give the Cavs a 32-14 lead with 3:42 remaining in the opening 12 minutes. By this point Allen had 16 points which was a career high for a quarter. With 1:24 left LeVert drove into the lane, hit the shot, and was fouled by Garrison Matthews. He converted the free throw and the Cavs led by 19 at 39-20 with 1:24 left in the quarter. As the quarter ended the Hawks cut the Cavs lead to 41-28 on a three pointer by Trae Young with :09 left. Allen led all scorers with 17 points, Young led the Hawks with eight. Allen was the first Cavs to go 8 for 8 in a quarter shooting from the field since LeBron James did it. The Cavs also dominated the boards outrebounding the Hawks 15-6. Cleveland also dominated in the paint with a 16-5 edge.

Sam Merrill got the scoring underway in the second for the Cavs draining a three pointer just :34 in on an assist from Craig Porter, Jr. The Cavs extended the lead back to 18 points with 10:43 left when Merrill found Tristan Thompson in the paint to give the Cavs a 46-28 lead. With 8:16 left in the half the Cavs took their largest lead to that point when Merrill drained a three pointer from the top of the arc putting the Cavs up 54-32. The Hawks were not going away as they cut the Cavs lead to 54-39 with 5:06 left in the first half on a hook shot by Onyeka Okongwu. After Trent Forest turned over the ball on a steal by Mitchell, he threw an outlet pass to Isaac Okoro who threw an alleyoop to Allen and he slammed it home for his 17th and 18th points of the first half and gave the Cavs a 56-49 lead with 4:42 left. Then with 3:31 left on the clock Allen scored his 20th points of the first half on a pass from Okoro and once again slammed it home giving the Cavs a 58-41 lead. With 2:09 left in the first half the Cavs took their biggest lead of the half as they went up 66-43 on a Max Strus three-pointer assisted by Mitchell. As the second quarter clock ran out the Hawks did cut the Cavs lead to 70-52 as the two teams headed to the locker room. Allen led all scorers with 21 first half points, Wade also had 12 for the Cavs all on three pointers where he shot 4 of 6 in the first half. Young led Atlanta with 12. The Cavs continued to dominate the glass outrebounding the Hawks 27-13 in the first 24 minutes. Cleveland also owned the paint outscoring the Hawks inside 36-14. The Cavs had a slight edge in the first off, the bench outscoring Atlanta 19-17. The Hawks turned the ball over six times and the Cavs took advantage scoring 12 points off Atlanta miscues.

In the early moments of the third quarter the two clubs traded baskets with :49 left on the clock after Mitchell hit two free throws after being fouled by Young and the Cavs led 76-58. The Cavs extended the score to 19 points at 79-60 with 9:07 left on a three-pointer from Okoro on a pass from Mitchell giving Mitchell his 11th assist of the game. The Hawks cut the Cavs lead to 81-68 with 7:14 left on the clock. The Cavs soon took a timeout with 6:50 left in the third. The Cavs’ lead shrunk to nine points with 4:49 left after the Hawks went on a 12-2 which was interrupted by a Cavs timeout with 4:49 left in the third after Dejounte Murray hit a fadeaway jumper. The Cavs promptly turned the ball over after the timeout and the Hawks cut the lead to 81-74 when Murray went the length of the court and put the ball in the basket with 4:29 left. Mitchell got the Cavs back to double digits 84-74 on a nice pass from Porter, Jr with 3:43 remaining in the quarter. With 1:53 left Porter, Jr. hit LeVert from the top of the arc and LeVert sent a three pointer home giving the Cavs an 89-76 lead with :28.9 left Young cut the Cavs lead back to ten at 91-81 when he drained a three from in front of the Cavs bench. When the quarter ended the Cavs somehow still had a double-digit lead at 92-81. They were outscored 29-22 in the quarter. Allen still led everyone in scoring with 21 but was held scoreless in the third. Young had 18 points through three to lead Atlanta. The Cavs still led on the boards 36-37 although they were outrebounded in the third 14-9.

The fourth quarter scoring began on a jumper from Porter, Jr to give the Cavs a 94-81 lead. Porter was then charged with a foul at the other end which Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff challenged unsuccessfully, and the lead was cut to 94-83 after DeAndre Hunter converted both free throws. With 9:56 left the Hawks cut the Cavs lead to six points at 96-90 when Young hit his fifth three of the game. With the Cavs up 98-92 Georges Niang hit Okoro in the corner in front of the Hawks bench and Okoro drained a three to give the Cavs a 101-92 lead with 8:55 left in regulation. After the Hawks cut the lead back to seven the Cavs hit consecutive threes from Mitchell on assists from Struss to extend their lead to 107-94 with 7:48 left on the clock forcing Cavs coach Quinn Synder to take a timeout to calm his troops. The Hawks cut the lead to 109-100 with 6:38 left in the game. Young was then called for a personal foul when he shoved Okoro to the ground. Snyder unsuccessfully challenged the call and the unfairly maligned Okoro hit both free throws giving the Cavs a 111-100 lead with 5:53 left on the game clock. Wade then fouled the timid Young sending him to the free throw line for the first time in the game, he hit both and cut the Cavs lead to 111-102 with 5:42 left. The Cavs lead was in double figures after Allen slammed home another dunk with 4:47 left putting the Cavs up 115-105 and giving the big man 25 points. With 3:32 left Murray hit a jumper and Wade committed his fifth personal foul. After Murray hit the free throw the Cavs lead was cut to 117-108. With 2:31 left Strus was fouled by Okongwu, his fourth sending Strus to the line where hit both giving the Cavs a 121-110 lead. With 1:53 left and the Cavs up nine, Mitchell committed his fourth foul sending Young to the line, he hit both cutting the Cavs lead to 121-114. After Mitchell was fouled with 1:37 left he went to the charity stripe and hit both extending the Cavs lead back to nine at 123-114. Young then did what he does best to draw a questionable foul and he converted both to cut the lead back to seven at 123-116. Mitchell then hit a jumper and the Cavs stole the ball and Okoro deposited the ball in the basket on a fast break giving the Cavs a 127-116 lead with 1:01 left on the clock. It was academic now as the clock ran out and the shorthanded Cavs secured the victory. Young led all scorers with 35 in the loss. The Cavs were led by Allen who ended the night with a double double scoring 25 points and pulling down 14 boards. Mitchell scored 22 points and 13 assists in the game.

The Cavs owned the boards outrebounding the Hawks 49-34. The Cavs destroyed the Hawks in the paint 60-42 and the Cavs bench which will have to some up big without Garland and Mobley outscored the Atlanta bench 35-24. The two teams were nearly Identical from the field as the Cavs just nipped the Hawks 48.5% (49-101) to 48.2 (41-85). Both Clubs were also great from the free throw line throwing back to the 1980’s as the Hawks shot 88% (22-25) and the Cavs shot 86.7% (13-15) from the charity stripe.

The Cavs will be in action next on Monday at RMFH when they play the second game of a four game homestand at 7 pm against the Houston Rockets (13-9, 2-8 road). It will be the first matchup between the two cubs this season.. 
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​POSTED 12/16/2023 22:21
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