NBA: Hawks end Cavaliers' perfect start

Dwight Howard of the Atlanta Hawks looks to drive against James Jones of the Cleveland Cavaliers at Philips Arena on Oct 10, 2016, in Atlanta, Georgia.
Dwight Howard of the Atlanta Hawks looks to drive against James Jones of the Cleveland Cavaliers at Philips Arena on Oct 10, 2016, in Atlanta, Georgia. PHOTO: AFP

Atlanta find a way past Cleveland to offer glimpse of Eastern Conference credentials

CLEVELAND • The results count more in May than they do in November, but the Atlanta Hawks had to start somewhere.

Given how the last two National Basketball Association seasons ended against the Cleveland Cavaliers, this will do for now.

Dennis Schroder scored a career-high 28 points and Kent Bazemore added 25 in the Hawks' 110-106 win over Cleveland on Tuesday, ending an 11-game losing streak to the Cavaliers. It was the first loss of the season for the Cavaliers (6-1), who had been the league's last unbeaten team.

Bazemore hit a pair of big baskets in the final four minutes. His three-pointer with 3min 33sec left extended the Hawks' lead to 101-95. His baseline jumper in the final seconds put the game out of reach after a three-point play from Kevin Love pulled Cleveland within 108-106 with 25 seconds left.

"They've dominated the Eastern Conference for a long time now," said Bazemore. "They're definitely the measuring stick, and we passed our first test.

"This is one of the biggest wins I've had since I've been here. They're a very, very special team... and for my two years here, they've kicked our butts."

HAWKS PASS WITH FLYING COLOURS

They've dominated the Eastern Conference for a long time now. They're definitely the measuring stick, and we passed our first test.

KENT BAZEMORE , Hawks guard, on the importance of Atlanta getting a win over reigning NBA champions Cleveland.

Indeed, Cleveland swept Atlanta out of the play-offs the past two seasons. They made 77 three-pointers in their conference semi-final sweep last season, including an NBA record 25 three-pointers in one play-off game.

All of that changed on Tuesday when they shot just 26.2 per cent (11 of 42) from deep.

"I just thought we didn't respect those guys," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. "(The Hawks) had pride, they always play hard and scrap. And once we decided to play, it was too late."

Kyrie Irving scored 29 points. LeBron James had 23 points, nine rebounds and five assists, and Love added 24 points and 12 rebounds for Cleveland. But the 31 missed three-pointers were too much to overcome.

James and J.R. Smith combined to shoot two of 13 in the first half, and the Cavs fell behind by double digits for the first time all season.

The Hawks' lead swelled to 18 in the third quarter, and Atlanta (5-2) withstood a valiant comeback attempt by Cleveland in both the third and fourth quarters.

"We were tired of getting pushed around by Cleveland and we wanted to beat these guys," said Hawks centre Dwight Howard.

"We did an excellent job forcing (James) to take tough shots. This was a great win for us.

"We are going to grow as a team. Our chemistry gets better with every game."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2016, with the headline 'Hawks end Cavs' perfect start'. Print Edition | Subscribe