With the addition of Glenn Robinson prior to this season, the Atlanta Hawks were so confident in their team that they guaranteed a partial refund to season-ticket holders if they failed to make the playoffs.
Robinson and the Hawks couldn’t back up that guarantee, and now Atlanta is playing some of its best basketball of the season without its leading scorer.
The Hawks look for their seventh win in 10 games without Robinson when they host the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers.
Atlanta was eliminated from playoff contention last Friday, meaning season-ticket holders will get a $125 refund. That probably will cost the team around $500,000.
The Hawks, however, improved to 6-3 without Robinson when they beat the New Jersey Nets 97-92 on Wednesday. Robinson is out with a strained Achilles’ tendon.
Ira Newble, Robinson’s replacement in the starting lineup, hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:38 left as Atlanta won for the third time in four games.
“I don’t find out if I’m starting or not until just before the game,” said Newble, who had a season-high 16 points. “Glenn comes in to work on his injury, and then he decides if he can go.
“He’s such an offensive weapon, when he’s not in the lineup, everybody has to step up. I just took my chances when they came and made some shots.”
Cleveland fell 100-81 in New Orleans on Wednesday for its seventh loss in eight games. Reserve Jumaine Jones scored 21 points, Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 15 and Carlos Boozer 10 for the Cavs, who have lost 19 straight road games and are 3-36 away from Cleveland.
“This was probably one of our worst game in a while,” Cleveland coach Keith Smart said.
Atlanta has won all three meetings this season and is looking to sweep the series for the first time since 1997-98. The Hawks are 23-7 against the Cavs since the 1995-96 season.
STANDINGS: Cavaliers - 8th place, 33 GB, Central Division. Hawks - 5th place, 16 GB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Cavaliers - Davis, 20.4 ppg and 5.4 apg; Ilgauskas, 7.5 rpg. Hawks - Robinson, 20.8 ppg; Abdur-Rahim, 8.4 rpg; Terry, 7.4 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Hawks, 3-0.
LAST MEETING: March 5; Hawks, 111-105. At Cleveland, Terry had 24 points and a career-high 14 assists. Abdur-Rahim and Robinson added 23 points apiece to lead Atlanta.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Cavaliers - 3-36 on the road; Hawks - 24-15 at home.