The Cleveland Cavaliers finished up their regular season series with the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night with a 103-102 overtime loss at Philips Arena.
This means that the Cavaliers (17-27) got swept by the Hawks (27-20) for the 2011-12 NBA season and have now beaten the Cavaliers seven times in a row. The Cavs will have to wait until next season in order to end their losing ways against the Hawks, but by next year Cleveland will most likely be a completely different team.
Cavaliers starting guard Anthony Parker, who struggled with guarding Hawks guard Joe Johnson Sunday, let the lethal shooter get a three-point shot off as time expired. The shot fell, tying the game at 91. Five more minutes of basketball was something that the Cavaliers were trying to avoid, as Cavaliers rookie Kyrie Irving put Cleveland up by three with little time left on the clock. Although it was a step down from Sunday’s game, Parker still allowed Johnson to produce and come up big for his team. Johnson finished with six points.
Another veteran who has also struggled as of late for the Cavaliers is forward Antawn Jamsion. After having a hot hand for most of the beginning of March, Jamison has cooled off in the last few games. Jamison has shot the ball often recently, but with almost no success. Wednesday was different, as he recorded a double-double with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Jamison scored 20 points or more for the first time since March 13, but it is unlikely that we will see him go on as impressive as a streak of 20+ points as he did beginning Feb. 29.
Jamison’s and Parker’s contracts will both come to an end after the 2011-12 NBA season, and judging by the Cavaliers recent roster moves, will not be resigned.
Despite Jamison’s performance, the Cavaliers came up inches short as no other than Irving, or Mr. Fourth Quarter as Cavs announcer Austin Carr refers to him, took the final shot of the game. Usually Irving would drive to the hoop to attempt the winning shot, but stifling defense by the Hawks prevented Irving from creating the shot that he wanted. Instead he settled for an outside jumper, which fell short. Cavaliers forward Alonzo Gee, however, had a shot at the tip-in, but that also just missed the hoop.
Irving, who might have had his best game had he not missed the game winner, scored 29 points and recorded nine rebounds and nine assists in the overtime nail biter.
The most startling statistic of the night had to be the difference between the Cavaliers shooting percentage (46.2) and the Hawks (39.8). Despite outshooting and out-rebounding the Hawks (54-38), the Cavaliers could not make up for the fact that they turned over the ball 19 times.
The Cavaliers will have to shake off the late-game hiccups before they face the Orlando Magic Friday at 7 p.m. at Amway Center.