Mistakes, sloppy fourth quarter doom Hawks in loss to Cavaliers

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) is fouled by Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dante Exum (1) during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) is fouled by Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dante Exum (1) during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

A sloppy fourth quarter did the Hawks (4-2) no favors in their 96-91 loss to the Cavaliers (4-2) Saturday at State Farm Arena.

Next up, the Hawks will have an off day Sunday and will host the Knicks at 7:30 p.m. Monday at State Farm Arena.

Below are some takeaways from the loss:

1. Both the end of the third and the fourth quarter were mistake-filled for the Hawks, who scored 35 points in the first quarter alone and then were limited to 35 points total in the second half. Despite controlling the entire first half, the Cavaliers outscored the Hawks 26-18 in the third and nearly took the lead a few times toward the end, with the Hawks’ second unit on the floor (the Hawks were up by 15 at the 6:31 mark, 67-52). Cleveland finally leapfrogged them, 76-74, with 9:45 to play in the fourth, forcing a Hawks timeout. Bogdan Bogdanovic made two timely 3′s to keep the Hawks in it late, the second bringing them within three points, 94-91, with 4.8 seconds to go, but it wasn’t enough. Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce didn’t like what he saw, even in the first half: “We got off to a good start, I think some of the shots went down, but we didn’t have the same competitive drive. I thought we had a couple good plays and a couple good moments in the first quarter. You could feel it, I thought we should have been up 20 at the half. For them to be down 11 was our inability to really push and that was just kind of a lack of competition that we needed in a game like this. You don’t want a team like this to stick around, and this is the reason why.”

2. Overall, the Hawks had 22 turnovers, including six in the fourth quarter that proved costly. The fourth quarter got messy, with Bogdanovic called for a five-second violation at 2:59 and Young called for an eight-second violation not long afterward, when the Hawks were desperate for a score. “I think some of those turnovers for sure cost us the game,” said Young, who had a double-double of 16 points and 10 assists. “Got to take care of the ball more.” Young had six turnovers, and Clint Capela, De’Andre Hunter (who led the Hawks in scoring with 17 points) and Kevin Huerter each had three.

3. Capela’s performance was a bright spot for the Hawks, as he continues to look more aggressive and faster on his feet, after nearly a year-long layoff from NBA games and a nagging heel injury. Capela had a double-double of 16 points and 16 rebounds (eight offensive), adding three steals and two blocks.

4. Last season, the Hawks went 2-10 on the second night of back-to-backs, and this hands them their first loss in that scenario this season. The Hawks have seven back-to-backs in the first half of their season (the schedule for the second half will be released at a later date).

5. Yet again, the Hawks had a hefty injury report, missing Danilo Gallinari (who will miss at least two weeks with a right ankle sprain), Rajon Rondo (left knee soreness), Kris Dunn (right ankle surgery), Onyeka Okongwu (inflammation, sesamoid bone, left foot) and Tony Snell (inflammation, cuboid bone, right foot). With Rondo out, Brandon Goodwin did a solid job of coming off the bench and leading the offense in Young’s stead in the second quarter, but the Hawks missed Gallinari’s shooting on an off night like this. The Cavaliers were also missing several bodies in Kevin Love (right calf strain), Isaac Okoro (left foot sprain/health and safety protocols), Kevin Porter Jr. (personal), Matthew Dellavedova (concussion) and Dylan Windler (left hand fracture).

Stat of the game

35 (what the Hawks were limited to in the second half, after scoring that much in the first quarter alone)

Star of the game

Collin Sexton (led Cavaliers with 27 points, going 10-for-18 from the field)

Quotable

“In the same game, you get a five-second backdown and a half-court violation, we didn’t really have any mojo. Those are two plays where we’re just playing slow and doing things that are uncharacteristic and I don’t know if that was fatigue, we were just out of sorts.” (Pierce on what led to the Hawks’ mistakes)

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