Tyler Cavanaugh scored 16 points for the Hawks against the Pelicans Monday. (Photo by )
Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Surprise: Cavanaugh scores 16 points for Hawks

Cavanaugh, a 6-foot-9 rookie forward out of George Washington, posted 16 points and rattled in four 3-pointers on four attempts in a coming out party against arguably the best combo of big men in the NBA, New Orleans’ Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.

Cavanaugh, who played for the Hawks’ summer league squad in July and in one game for the Erie BayHawks, Atlanta’s G-League affiliate, has been active on the big-league roster since Nov. 5 when he signed a two-way contract.

Monday, in Atlanta’s 106-105 loss at New Orleans, Cavanaugh's offensive gem surprised even himself.

“I’d be stupid if I told you it didn’t surprise me,” he said.

Combined in his first four games this season, Cavanaugh logged a sliver over 10 minutes, scoring a mere three points on one 3-pointer Saturday versus the Washington Wizards.

“It’s one of those good stories,” said Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer. “Certainly frustrated that we weren’t able to find a way to get the win. ... We’ve got to find those spots sometimes when you’re frustrated or having a tough night — and Tyler was certainly one of those guys tonight.”

Cavanaugh’s 16 points set a career high for the 23-year-old’s youthful career. His six total rebounds and two assists did, too. And his 18 minutes of play — you get the point.

Cavanaugh's record game was enthralling for Atlanta, even if the Hawks’ Eastern Conference-most 12th loss this season stings.

“I mean, I hate losing. We all hate losing," he said. "But it’s been a great experience. Traveling around and playing good teams, teams that are playing well. We’re very close in two of the three games. We’re right there. The ball’s going to start bouncing our way soon.

“I felt like I did my job tonight. So that was good.”