In their last game before the All-Star break, the Hawks (15-41) were pushed around by the Cavaliers (14-40) in a 127-105 loss.
Below are some takeaways from the loss:
1. A terrible first quarter and only slightly better second quarter buried the Hawks in a 17-point hole at halftime. In the first, the Hawks gave up eight offensive rebounds (three by Andre Drummond and four by Tristan Thompson, both of whom gave the Hawks fits all night) and shot 30.4% from the field (7-for-23), showing minimal energy against a Cavaliers team that’s dead last in the Eastern Conference standings and playing without Kevin Love (right Achilles soreness), although obviously acquiring Drummond at the trade deadline makes them more competitive. The Hawks were held to 19 points in the first quarter. Four 3’s in the second quarter (two from rookie De’Andre Hunter, two more from rookie Cam Reddish) helped slightly. “We put ourselves at a disadvantage and I feel like we lost the game because of it,” said John Collins, who added 23 points and four rebounds. “You give a team the lead, a team like that, that has veterans and has productive players, especially their bigs, they’re going to produce and they’re going to keep their lead, as well.”
2. In a solid second half (in which they shot 50% from the field), the Hawks were able to make up a good portion of the ground they lost in the first half (in which they shot 37%). Off a Dewayne Dedmon dunk with 5:58 to play in the fourth, they narrowed the deficit to nine. They again got it to nine with a Trae Young free throw at the 4:54 mark, but they couldn’t muster up a stop on defense, with the Cavaliers outscoring them 16-2 the rest of the way. Even though coming back to make it competitive was encouraging, that’s what the Hawks have been doing all season, Young pointed out postgame, but they haven’t converted those efforts into wins: “I’m tired of kind of saying it’s encouraging, because we’ve done that all year. We’ve got to figure out a way to start off better and finish, close out games. Even though we’re young, that’s not an excuse. We’ve got to learn to get better, and it’s going to come. It’s just the beauty in the struggle right now.” Young led the Hawks with a double-double of 27 points and 12 assists.
3. It was a good night for the Cavaliers’ frontcourt, with Thompson, Drummond and Larry Nance Jr. all dominating and tallying double-doubles. Thompson had 27 points and 11 rebounds, Drummond had 14 points and a game-high 15 rebounds and Nance had 23 points and 12 rebounds. The trio pushed the Hawks around and helped the Cavaliers to 68 points in the paint (compared to the Hawks’ 44). Thompson even added a career-high three 3’s, to boot. In total, the Cavaliers had 55 rebounds (17 offensive) to the Hawks’ 38 (nine offensive), with that trio of Thompson, Drummond and Nance alone matching the Hawks’ total on the boards. “All three of their bigs had the same amount of rebounds that we had, and that kind of sums up the game,” Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. “They were aggressive in the paint, on penetration, and they were aggressive around the basket with offensive rebounds, with 17. And that’s effort. It’s just the attack mentality that they had.”
4. In his third game back with the Hawks, Dedmon got the starting nod at center, with Damian Jones coming off the bench. Dedmon struggled early, picking up three fouls in three-and-a-half minutes. It wasn’t the strongest showing for Dedmon, with seven points and four rebounds in a little under 18 minutes, though he did add three blocked shots. But picking up fouls early kept him on the bench, which hurt the Hawks defensively. The Hawks acquired Dedmon and two second-round picks Feb. 5, sending Jabari Parker and Alex Len to Sacramento.
5. This was the last game for the Hawks before the All-Star break, and for the first time in a while, they had a clean injury report, outside of the two other players they acquired in trade deadline deals, Clint Capela (right calcaneus contusion/plantar fasciitis) and Skal Labissiere (left knee chondral injury). DeAndre’ Bembry, who hadn’t played since Jan. 20 with right hand neuritis, was active. Capela, who has been struggling with a pesky right heel injury, said at his introductory press conference that he hopes to come back after the All-Star break, so the Hawks, finally getting healthier, may get another boost soon. Their first game after the break is a home game vs. Miami Feb. 20.
By the numbers
16 (the amount of points Cam Reddish scored in his second game back from concussion)
“We just wanted to play good basketball and it just went the other way. It completely went the other way.” (Coach Lloyd Pierce on the Hawks’ effort once they narrowed the deficit to nine in the fourth quarter)
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