CLEVELAND (AP) — Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 15 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter as the Atlanta Hawks, despite resting center Dwight Howard and missing three other key starters, stunned the Cleveland Cavaliers 114-100 on Friday night.
The Hawks, who beat Boston on Thursday night, outworked and outgunned the defending NBA champions, who blew a chance to move closer to securing the top seed in the Eastern Conference with a flat performance.
It was a shocking letdown by the Cavs, who were so impressive in a win over the Celtics on Wednesday night. But they lacked energy from the outset and the Hawks took advantage with their second straight victory, moving a game ahead of Milwaukee for fifth place in the East.
Hardaway took over from there.
Although he was listed as questionable before the game with knee and wrist injuries, Hardaway played anyway and down the stretch he buried a pair of 3-pointers and delivered a vicious dunk during a 12-0 run when the Hawks put it away, shocking a sellout crowd hoping to see the Cavs move closer to locking down home-court advantage in the East.
Cleveland was again without starting center Tristan Thompson, who missed his second straight game with a sprained thumb.
Hawks: Didn’t play any of their starters from a March 3 matchup with Cleveland. … The decision to sit Howard wasn’t announced until 40 minutes before tip-off. When he met with reporters, coach Mike Budenholzer wasn’t certain about his starting lineup and he initially said Dennis Schroder would play. However, after going through a warmup, Schroder was scratched and Jose Calderon started. … Paul Millsap (swollen left knee) and Kent Bazemore (bone bruise) aren’t ready to play in consecutive games as they recover from injuries. … G/F Thabo Sefolosha announced he’ll make a donation from his court settlement after breaking his leg in a fracas outside a Manhattan nightclub in 2015. Sefolosha will reportedly receive $4 million and give “a substantial portion” to Gideon’s Promise, an Atlanta-based organization that helps support and train public defenders.
Cavaliers: Coach Tyronn Lue plans to rest James and Irving for the playoffs if the Cavs clinch the No. 1 seed. “If we can take care of business like we’re supposed to, I think that we’d like LeBron and Kyrie to get some rest,” Lue said. “I think J.R. (Smith) and Korver and Kevin (Love) and those guys should play a little bit because they’ve been out for so long and just try to keep J.R.’s rhythm and establish Kevin’s rhythm and the same thing with Kyle.” … Lue offered few details about Thompson’s injury or a timeline on a possible return. Thompson got hurt Tuesday against Orlando and missed Wednesday’s game in Boston, snapping his streak of consecutive games played at 447.