Per Hawks coach Nate McMillan, the team got distracted by officiating (the Cavaliers went 20-27 from the line and the Hawks went 9-15) in the third quarter, and also was thrown off some of the zone Cleveland started going to in the second.
“I thought it was the third quarter, I thought we got distracted by the officiating and we lost focus and in that second quarter. They mixed in zone, and I thought they caught us at a point where we got distracted, and we kind of weren’t able to play out of that the next two quarters, the second half,” McMillan said. “I thought just execution, defensively, we weren’t getting stops. They got the momentum. They pretty much kept that momentum for the rest of the game.”
Trae Young led the Hawks (1-1) with 24 points, seven assists and three steals (in the first quarter, Young made the 500th 3-pointer of his career, which tied him with Dominique Wilkins for the sixth-most in franchise history). Cam Reddish added 19 points and six rebounds off the bench, De’Andre Hunter had 12 points and three rebounds and John Collins, who got in foul trouble early, added six points and 12 rebounds.
Cavs 101, Hawks 95 (box score)
The Hawks clung to a narrow 55-52 lead after a messy first half, though they led by as many as 13 in the first half. But the second half started sloppily, too, with the Cavs going on an 15-0 run to take a 12-point lead, before Hunter finally stopped the bleeding with a 3-pointer to make the score 67-58.
A nice finish by Reddish got the Hawks back within five, but they couldn’t gain much traction, entering the fourth quarter down 11. The third quarter was ugly, with the Hawks shooting 27.3% from the field and giving up 31 points.
The Hawks seemed to briefly settle down in the fourth quarter, with a jump shot by Hunter and layups by Young and Capela making the score 89-86, and Young making two free throws at the 1:16 mark to make the score 99-95. In the final minute Young had a turnover and Hunter and Reddish missed shots that could have brought the Hawks closer.
“We couldn’t get a shot to go and we made some bad plays,” Young said. “A lot of those fall on me. I’ve got to do better. I’ll be better... It was tough, they switched into that zone in the second half and kind of threw us by surprise, not that they hadn’t played it before, but that was just a long zone.”
Next up, the Hawks will return home to face the Pistons on Monday. Then, they’ll depart for a three-game trip to New Orleans, Washington and Philadelphia.