NBA free-agency tracker:

Hawks take season series with Cavaliers

The SportsXchange

ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Braves were playing host to the Philadelphia Phillies on Opening Day just blocks away from Philips Arena, putting a damper on the attendance and atmosphere for the Hawks' game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Still, the Hawks were inspired enough to come away from a 102-94 victory on Monday night, winning the season series with the Cavs 3-1.

"As the season winds down," Hawks coach Larry Drew said, "it's important that we don't lose focus. Don't lose focus defensively and don't lose focus of who we have to be every time we step on the floor."

Devin Harris scored the Hawks' first seven points on his way to 11 first-quarter points. Scoring in the paint, at the foul line and beyond the 3-point arc, Harris racked up a season high 25 points. Jeff Teague augmented Harris with 19 points, including four 3-point shots.

The Hawks (42-33) held off the Cavs essentially without Al Horford and Josh Smith in the first half.

Horford, with two fouls in the game's first three minutes and a third foul with 6:42 left in the second quarter, did well to score six points and come up with three rebounds in the nine minutes he was on the floor in the first half.

Smith didn't score in the first quarter and had only three points at halftime.

Horford ended up with 16 points and six rebounds, and Smith recovered to finish with 18 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists.

"I thought we kept our composure," Horford said. "I felt like I couldn't get into the rhythm I wanted to, I just went out and kept playing my game and we handled our business."

Atlanta's Kyle Korver hit a 3-point shot with 8:30 left in the first quarter to give him a streak of 68 consecutive games with at least one long-range basket. He had nine points.

Cavaliers coach Byron Scott was impressed with his team's fight in the second game of a back to back. He had the Cavs in a zone defense, something they were doing on the fly. They've barely worked on it this season.

"We knew they were going to be a physical team," Scott said, "but we knew we had to take care of the ball and get back in transition. We gave up 23 points in transition. That's way too many.

"Overall, I thought we played extremely hard, competed. But that little thing right there, transition defense, was a big key tonight."

Marreese Speights got hot late for the Cavs, finishing with 23 points, 15 of them in the fourth quarter.

"It's always good to see a ball go in," Speights said, "and sometimes that's all you need, is to see it go through the hole. But we didn't get the win, so I can't really talk about that."

Shaun Livingston had the hot hand early for the Cavs (22-51) and finished with 14 points. Alonzo Gee contributed 11 points and eight rebounds, and Tyler Zeller, who got his fourth foul seconds into the third quarter, had 12 points.

Cleveland's Daniel Gibson was ejected with 7:07 left in the second quarter after jawing with officials and getting two technical fouls.

"Like I was telling the guys, that's my fault," Gibson said. "We're already short on people."

But it was a glimpse of the fire Scott has been waiting all season to see.

"I think guys on this team are really competitive," Gibson said. "Maybe that frustration came out. It got physical and we didn't back down. I think that's what Coach wants us to do. That's the team he wants us to be."

The Cavaliers made a brief 12-6 run at the Hawks as the second half got under way and kept hanging around until Horford and Smith began attacking. The Hawks led 79-68 at the end of the third quarter.

NOTES: The Cavaliers were without Kyrie Irving, who for the foreseeable future is not likely to be playing in back-to-back games, although that is not an official protocol. After missing eight games from March 12 to March 29 with a left shoulder sprain, Irving played 28:40 minutes in Sunday's 112-92 loss to the Hornets in New Orleans, scoring 31 points. He was understandably sore Monday, but as Scott said before the game, "He said he feels good, but I expected him to say that." Scott also said Irving did not lobby to play. ... Cavs second-year forward Tristan Thompson is one of seven players nominated for the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, given by the basketball writers for community service. ... Scott, asked about how to stop the Hawks' Josh Smith, joked, "We would love for Josh to shoot about 20 jump shots. That would help us more than it would them." ... Drew said after a .500 road trip, "We have to kind of feel good where we are." ... Horford returned to Atlanta's starting lineup after missing two games with a stomach illness, but John Jenkins was still out with a mild concussion. Team doctors were scheduled to check him out before the game; the Hawks will be following the NBA's concussion protocol.
Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Football
View Comments