The Atlanta Hawks returned to the place their breakout 2014-15 season ended and suffered a similar fate in a 109-97 loss. In front of a sellout Quicken Loans Arena crowd, Kevin Love led the Cavs with 25 points and 11 rebounds and LeBron James added 19 points and 11 rebounds. The Hawks only had one lead and were never really in the game past the opening minutes.
The big story was the ejection of coach Mike Budenholzer after just one technical foul. Coach Bud was giving Ben Taylor some words after Justin Holiday was hit in the face on a drive without a whistle, and he appeared to make contact with the fifth year referee, which would warrant the immediate ejection. After the game, coach Bud stated that he did not immediately realize he bumped Taylor and that the contact was unintentional.
Hawks' Mike Budenholzer clearly surprised he got tossed. Says ref may have suspected contact. "If there was, it was totally unintentional."
— Sam Amico (@AmicoHoops) November 22, 2015
Kenny Atkinson took over the coaching duties from there but there would be no emotional rally from Atlanta.
Five men reached double figures for the Hawks but none topped 50 percent shooting from the floor. Both Paul Millsap and Al Horford recorded a double-double but combined for just 7-of-25 shooting. Jeff Teague came off the bench after missing the last two games with an ankle injury and provided an early spark with 11 first half points including two big threes, but was just 0-for-6 in the second half.
Despite the 12 point final margin, the Cavaliers led by 26 points at one point and it looked as though the game could get ugly quickly. The Hawks continued to suffer from poor rebounding. Cleveland cleaned up on the glass to the tune of a 51-to-38 edge. Even without Timofey Mozgov who was sidelined with a bum right shoulder, the Cavaliers continued their dominance on the boards. Tristan Thompson picked up where he left off last May with 16 rebounds, including six on the offensive glass.
Even more concerning for the Hawks, however, was the stonewall the Cavs put up in the paint without Mozgov. The Hawks shot 36% on two point shots and 37% overall. Thompson played a game-high 40 minutes and affected the Hawks shots near the basket all game long. Conversely, the Cavs shot 54% from two point range, getting to the rim with little resistance.
Paul Millsap left the game with shoulder tightness, although it is unknown if it’s the same shoulder he hurt late last season. Tiago Splitter exited the game after the first half as well. Fortunately, the Hawks will have a few days to rest up and get ready for a rematch with Boston on Tuesday. Tip off will be at 8:00 PM EST and the game can be seen on TNT.