Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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Young leads surging Hawks past struggling Cavaliers 131-107

ATLANTA (AP) – Trae Young scored 30 points and the surging Atlanta Hawks never trailed while beating the short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers 131-107 on Thursday night to clinch a spot in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.

Cedi Osman led Cleveland with 21 points. Darius Garland had 18 points and eight assists while sitting out the final quarter of the blowout loss.

Cavaliers standout rookie Evan Mobley missed his second consecutive game with a sprained ankle. Cleveland has lost two straight and five of six as it attempts to keep the number seven spot in the Eastern Conference.

Young had nine assists as the Hawks’ fourth consecutive win clinched no worse than the No 10 spot in the Eastern Conference and a berth in the play-in tournament. The Hawks began the night one-half game behind Charlotte and one game behind Brooklyn.

“We’re in a tight race here at the end and we’re starting to click at the right time,” Young said, before offering the reminder the Hawks advanced to the Eastern Conference finals last year.

“We did the same thing last year and we were able to make a run.”

Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young dribbles past Cleveland Cavaliers’ Isaac Okoro. PHOTO: AP

Kevin Huerter continued his strong finish to the regular season with 23 points, his fourth consecutive game with at least 20 points. Clint Capela added 12 points with 14 rebounds.

Cavaliers coach BJ Bickerstaff said before the game “we’re searching at this point” for a playing rotation due to injuries. Guard Rajon Rando (ankle) missed his 10th consecutive game. Centre Jarrett Allen missed his 12th straight with a finger injury.

Bickerstaff said he respected the Hawks’ “firepower” and said “they have the ability to blow you out because of that”.

The Hawks delivered on Bickerstaff’s assessment. Atlanta took its first double-digit lead at 29-19 on Bogdan Bogdanovic’s three-pointer with three minutes remaining in the opening period. The Hawks stretched the lead to 20 points, 73-53, early in the second half on Young’s three-pointer and extended the advantage to 30 points in the final period.