Hawks Beat Cavs as Scott Breaks Out of Slump

Friday, April 4, 2014
By Robby Kalland

Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks (33-42) dominated from start to finish on their way to a 117-98 victory over the Cavs (31-46) behind 26 points off the bench by Mike Scott on 12-of-13 shooting, as he broke out of his shooting slump in a big way. Jeff Teague started hot and dominated the first and third quarters on his way to 20 points and 12 assists on 7-of-12 shooting. Teague also did well defensively on Kyrie Irving, limiting the All-Star to just 13 points, five rebounds, and four assists on 6-of-15 from the floor.

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Scott was able to get shots to fall early and build his confidence. He was working well in the pick-and-roll game, and also was able to find some deep post-up position early in the shot clock by beating his man down the floor.

“I was in a little shooting slump, but I just kept being aggressive and kept getting extra shots, and they finally fell,” said Scott. “I started going early and they started switching a lot of screens and they showed a hedge. Teague just told me to slip a lot of screens and I’d be open. That’s what I did.”

The Hawks led wire-to-wire, never letting the Cavs get in front. Atlanta were on fire to start the game, taking a 39-23 lead after the first quarter on 14-of-21 shooting (66.7%) and 6-of-11 from three (54.5%). The Hawks were able to stay hot for the entire game and finished with a 58.5% field goal percentage and 44.8% from three-point range.After a few tough shooting nights from three, getting those shots to fall was a big boost for the Hawks offense.

“We haven’t shot it that well recently,” said Coach Budenholzer. “It makes a big difference for us. There are a lot of times when we’re making the extra pass and we’re playing unselfishly and we’re getting guys pretty good looks. For whatever reasons, they haven’t been going down. That’s why we can’t just rely on our three-point shooting. Defensively you have to be solid. you have to keep attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line, and not just be dependent on the three-point shot. It’s pretty apparent though that when we make them, it makes a big difference.”

Joining Scott off the bench was Lou Williams who had 16 points and six assists in 21 minutes while shooting 66.7% from the floor and 60% from three-point range. Williams was decisive with the ball, doing well to attack the paint when the opportunity presented itself, and took his three-point shots in rhythm when open. The Hawks bench scored 54 points, with Elton Brand adding eight points and five boards, in one of the unit’s best efforts in recent weeks.

“Our bench was exceptional tonight” said Coach Bud. “I think Elton Brand, with his defense and his leadership, and Lou Williams made some big plays, and Mike Scott was good on both ends. He was active, made a lot of shots, and was a big difference maker off the bench.”

“Elton, Lou, Dennis, everybody came off the bench ready,” said Scott. “That’s what we do. We try to come off the bench ready and have a lot of energy.”

Turnovers were the only negative for the Hawks, as they had 17 on the night — nine in the second quarter — that led to 18 Cavs points. Other than that, the Hawks played a tremendous overall game. Their defense did well to keep the Cavs out of the paint, limited their offensive rebounding opportunities, and also were able to close out on Cavalier shooters holding them to just 23.8% from three.

“Defensively, I thought we had a good first quarter and I thought that fueled our offense,” said Coach Bud. “I think we were disciplined in our pick-and-roll coverage and we were more active earlier.When you get to your early shifts and your early rotations, you can get back to shooters and I think we did a better job of that tonight. I think we were more connected and in front of them more and that allows you to stay with shooters more.”

Paul Millsap had an effective, efficient 16 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists on 70% shooting in 28 minutes, with 10 of those points in the first quarter to lead the Hawks hot start. Millsap was able to bully his way into the lane against the Cavs frontcourt, and controlled the glass on the defensive end. DeMarre Carroll added 13 points and four rebounds, and Kyle Korver had eight points and six assists in the win.

The Hawks continue to control their destiny in the playoff chase. With the win tonight, and a loss by the Knicks to the Wizards, Atlanta is back to having a game advantage for the eighth seed with a two-game cushion in the loss column.The Hawks will be back in action Sunday evening in Indiana to face the suddenly slumping Pacers.

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Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

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