Using the three-pointer to bludgeon their opponents and picking up where they left off on Friday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers put together an amazing 38-6 first half run against the Atlanta Hawks enroute to a record-setting 127-94 home win on Saturday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Cavaliers established a new team record with 19 three-pointers on the night, breaking the old team mark of 17 set against the New York Knicks on March 5, 2008 and the Phoenix Suns on March 12, 2009. With 11 straight three-pointers to start the game, they also broke the team record for consecutive threes without a miss.
Finally, they also tied a team record for treys in a half with 13 in the first two quarters, breaking the old mark against the Los Angeles Clippers on January 31, 2010,
James, who led all scorers with 32 points, finished with seven of the team’s 39 assists on the evening, attributed the win to the huge night of dishes saying, “In order to win basketball games, we have to share the ball.”
Cleveland led 24-21 with 3:13 remaining in the first quarter after Atlanta’s Dennis Schroeder hit a driving layup. Harris then lit the spark for the surge with the first of his four three-pointers on the night, adding his second one as the buzzer sounded to end the quarter and give the Cavs a 41-25 advantage.
After the game, Harris was asked about his scoring output for the night. “I know my job is to shoot and to shoot with confidence,” said Harris, “Hopefully, we can build on this for Monday.”
During that opening stanza, the Cavaliers rained three-pointers down on the Hawks, connecting on all nine of their attempts. James had started the onslaught by scoring 11 of Cleveland’s first 14 points on a trio of three-pointers, with Love also adding a pair from deep in the Q.
James said after the game, “I wanted to come out aggressive,” citing the team’s emotional comeback win from last night. “Every game is different,” said James, who later added, “Guys get a rhythm. It’s just the karma of the game.”
The long range shooting prowess was part of an eye-popping 12 minutes that saw the Cavaliers connect on 14 of their 18 outside shots, finishing at just under 78 percent.
The pace picked up from there as Irving connected on another three, with the Cavs scoring 23 of the first 25 points of quarter number two, including an unanswered string of 16 points that were capped by Tristan Thompson’s layup with 6:58 to go before intermission that made the score 62-27.
Atlanta was able to stabilize things for the remainder of the half, but still faced a 28-point deficit at 71-43 at the break.
In postgame comments, Irving said, “It was just one of those games where shots were falling,” but cautioned that this game wasn’t a sign that the team had the chemistry it was seeking. “There’s never going to be a day where everything’s complete,” said Irving, “We just have to have a committed effort on both sides of the court.”
While Cleveland cooled off after their torrid shooting to start the game, they still headed to the halftime locker room with a field goal percentage of 61 percent, ending the game by hitting at a 54 percent clip
When asked about the offensive explosion during a brief halftime interview, Dion Waiters put it simply by commenting, “It’s great, especially when we’re moving the ball around.”
After Atlanta tallied the first five points of the third quarter 71-48, Cavs head coach David Blatt immediately called a time out to stop any hint of momentum. The maneuver was successful as the Hawks would get no closer than that for the remainder of the game.
In a span of 1:40 late in that quarter, the Cavaliers went on an 11-1 run to take their biggest lead of the night up to that point at 37 on a dunk by Shawn Marion that made it 101-64.
Garbage time continued in the final quarter, with Blatt emptying Cleveland’s bench as the lead got as high as 43 at 120-77 with 6:20 left in the game.
Indicative of Atlanta’s night was an early third quarter sequence that saw the Hawks’ Thabo Sefolosha steal the ball from James and head for a monster dunk. Instead of a slam, the ball ricocheted back toward the midcourt whereby it was fed to James, who then scored.
After the game, Blatt commented on the three-pointers, saying they were “spot up,” then adding, “Even the three pointers we were making were because of good ball movement. Some days you feel it and you have to go with it.”
When asked about how the insertion of Marion into the starting lineup has helped the team, Blatt first noted that the team is 4-1 since the move, with the one loss coming on a buzzer beater in Utah. He then said, “Shawn has taken to it, and the team has taken to it.”
The win was the Cavs’ fourth straight victory to improve their mark to 5-3, while the Hawks’ season mark dropped to 5-4 as their own four-game winning streak came to a crashing end.
The Cavaliers next take the court on Monday night when they host the Denver Nuggets in a rematch of their November 7th game in the Mile High City that Cleveland won by a 110-101 score. The game will start a rough week that will see the Cavs play four times in six nights, including their first meeting of the year against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night.