The Cleveland Cavaliers found out hours before the game that LeBron James, along with Shawn Marion, would miss Tuesday's game vs. the Atlanta Hawks. Then, after he started slow from the floor and quickly came in and out of the game in the third quarter, Kevin Love left the game with back spasms.
Cleveland's lack of offensive firepower, coupled with a poor shooting performance in the first half, resulted in a 109-101 loss for the Cavaliers. At several points in the game, the Cavs found themselves down by double-digit points and went into halftime on the heels of a 14-3 run by Atlanta. Even after the Cavs closed the deficit to just five at the end of the third quarter, the Hawks, who finished shooting 51 percent from the field, were too much for the Cavs.
Kyrie Irving, making his return from a left knee injury, led all scorers with 35 points, while Tristan Thompson had 18 points and 13 rebounds for the Cavs. Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 26 points, while Jeff Teague added 19 points and 10 assists. The Hawks were not at full strength either for this game, as All-Star center Al Horford was a late scratch due to an undisclosed illness.
The Cavs' injury problems resulted in some interesting lineup choices for head coach David Blatt. In pursuit of a comeback, Blatt played James Jones extended minutes for the first time in several games and Thompson was the only big on the floor for most of the second half. Essentially, the offense became centered around Irving with Thompson and a group of 3-point shooters lead by Jones playing a supporting role.
Cleveland has now lost three of four and drops to 18-13. The Cavs play the Milwaukee Bucks tomorrow at Quicken Loans Arena as part of a stretch of four games in six days. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. Statuses for James, Love and Marion for tomorrows game are not yet known.