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Young’s 38 lift Hawks past Cavs for Eastern number eight playoff seed

CLEVELAND (AP) – When the final horn sounded and Trae Young’s work was done, he slammed the ball off the floor, sending it spinning skyward. He then turned and waved goodbye to the Cleveland fans retreating to the exits.

So cold. Ice Trae stings again.

Young scored 32 of his 38 points in the second half and the Atlanta Hawks overcame losing centre Clint Capela to a knee injury to beat the Cavaliers 107-101 and earn the Eastern Conference’s number eight playoff seed.

Young started slowly, but the All-Star with the nickname for his ability to take over games with one of the NBA’s deadliest shooting strokes heated up when it mattered most.

Young scored 16 points in the third quarter to rally the Hawks from a 10-point halftime deficit, and added another 16 in the fourth to finish off the inexperienced Cavs.

Trae Young shoots at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio. PHOTO: AFP

“We took care of business,” Young said. “It’s a testament to our team that we kept fighting and finished the job.”

The Hawks may have to go forward without Capela. The six-foot-10 centre hyperextended his right knee late in the first half, had to be helped from the floor and couldn’t return.

Capela’s loss forced all of the Hawks to step up, but it was Young, making 10 of his last 14 shots, who kept their season alive. “Trae has a great deal of confidence in his game, his ability and he continued to believe,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said.

“I didn’t see any panic in his play. He came out in the second half, remained aggressive.”

Lauri Markkanen scored 26 and Darius Garland 21 for the young Cavaliers, whose unexpected season fell just shy of a playoff berth.

Lifted by a rowdy crowd in Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, the Cavs were in position to advance and played well in long stretches.

However, Cleveland’s offense bogged down in the third quarter, and they had no answer for Young. The Cleveland fans who stayed until the end saluted the Cavs, who weren’t expected to get this far after winning just 22 games last season.

While they’ve been relegated to lottery picks and losing since James left, the future in Cleveland is bright.

The Hawks were in big trouble late in the third quarter, when Young finally heated up.

The guard made a pair of three-pointers and scored Atlanta’s final 12 points in the quarter as the Hawks closed with a 17-8 run to tie it 84-all going into to the final 12 minutes.

In the fourth, Young answered every Cleveland run with one of his own, knocking down floaters or getting to the rim for layups, like the Hawks have seem him do so many times before.

“That’s why he gets paid the big bucks,” De’Andre Hunter said.