Cavaliers run win streak to three with 121-118 win over Atlanta
BY STONE LEXINGTON
CAVALIERS BEAT WRITER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - A pair of young teams that are learning on the fly faced off in Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on Monday night, as the Cleveland Cavaliers hosted the Atlanta Hawks. Both teams entered the contest in the bottom three of the Eastern Conference, but that didn’t stop them from putting on an entertaining game on Monday.
On Monday, the Cavs scored the most points they’ve scored in any game this season en route to a 121-118 home victory. It was the final Cavs home game of the decade, and the win secured Cleveland’s first three-game winning streak of the season.
The Cavs (9-21) previous high for points scored in a game was 117, posted in a win against the Chicago Bulls in just their fourth game this season. Cleveland hadn’t reached that total again until Monday, starting the game hot and continuing the aggressive nature throughout the evening.
“I’m proud of our guys, going on this homestand and getting three in a row, just having exciting nights for our fans who have been very patient with us as we go through this transition,” Cavs head coach John Beilein said.
Cavs power forward Kevin Love had three early three-pointers, draining his third of the first quarter just before the period ended that helped Cleveland take a 42-32 lead into the second. The Cavs’ 42 points was the most the team has scored in any quarter this season, and they didn’t let their feet off the gas pedal from there. With three players in double-figures by halftime, Cleveland led 71-64 at the half. The 74 points was the most the Cavs have scored in any half this season, but the Hawks did their best to keep pace.
“They’re really a talented team,” Beilein said. “They’re young like us…they got a lot of talent, Young and Hunter and Huerter, who I recruited a long, long time ago and now (John) Collins is back, plus they have some cagey veterans.”
The Cavs and Hawks entered the fourth quarter tied at 94, but Cleveland threw the first haymaker in the final frame. The Cavs began the fourth quarter with a 25-11 run to take a 119-105 lead, their largest of the game, with a little more than three minutes to play. Atlanta, though, rallied back to trail by just three points with the ball and five seconds showing. Hawks point guard Trae Young, however, missed a game-tying three-pointer just before regulation expired.
“I didn’t expect another ending like that when we’re up by 13, but we had some untimely turnovers,” Beilein said. “Obviously, they made some great shots. You’re in a tough situation when they have a bunch of shooters out there…But we made the best of it and our defense on that last possession was perfect.”
Collin Sexton led the Cavaliers with 25 points, six rebounds and three assists. Two other Cavaliers had at least 20 points, as Love totaled 20 points and eight rebounds, while rookie point guard Darius Garland chipped-in 21 points.
For Atlanta, Young finished with a game-high 30 points, 11 assists, six rebounds and four steals. In his first game back from a 25-game suspension, Hawks forward John Collins totaled 27 points and 10 rebounds. Atlanta rookie De’Andre Hunter scored 23 points.
Two of the youngest teams in the league were on display in the Fieldhouse on Monday, and they’ll certainly experience plenty of growing pains this season.
“I do look in the standings all the time, and I know there’s some teams there in this situation where they’re playing their young drafted players like we have,” Beilein said. “It is part of the landscape of pro basketball right now that when you’re in the kind of situation we’re in, you try to hurry their progress as much as possible, giving them max minutes to help them grow and also help the team.”
The Cavs and their young core will go for a fourth straight win in Boston against the Celtics on Friday.
POSTED 12/23/2019 22:42