Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Atlanta Hawks Game Recap: Cavs Begin Post-LeBron Era 0-3 | Cavaliers Nation
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Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Atlanta Hawks Game Recap: Cavs Begin Post-LeBron Era 0-3

George Hill, Larry Nance Jr., Cedi Osman, Kevin Love, Rodney Hood

(Cleveland, OH) — A strong start for the Cleveland Cavaliers proved to be a mirage as they fell to the Atlanta Hawks by a score of 133-111 at Quicken Loans Arena on Sunday night. The loss came in the Cavs’ home opener and kept them winless at 0-3 on the season.

Jordan Clarkson led the Cavs with 19 points and three rebounds, with Kevin Love and George Hill each scoring 16 points and Love collecting a double-double with 17 rebounds. Rodney Hood added 13 points, while Cedi Osman‘s 12 and Tristan Thompson‘s near double-double of 11 points and nine boards rounded out the Cavs in double figures.

Love was largely held in check after a solid first quarter, something head coach Tyronn Lue took note of after the game:

“We’ve got to shrink the floor better. It’s a tough predicament, but we have to get it done.”

One Cavalier who struggled all night was rookie guard Collin Sexton, who managed just four points, two assists and two rebounds in his 27 minutes.

“We’ve just got to play defense and communicate,” Sexton said. “We gave up too many easy threes and transition points.”

The Cavaliers fell behind 5-2 after 90 seconds of action, but then went on a 20-2 run to take a 22-7 advantage with 4:36 left in the first quarter. The Cavs shot 58 percent from the field for the period, again playing at a faster pace, but watched the Hawks slice the margin down as low as seven points. That was the result of Atlanta’s six 3-pointers during the quarter, with Cleveland holding a 34-24 lead after the first 12 minutes.

After being outscored by a combined 25 points in the second quarter of the first two games, the Cavaliers once again experienced some steep struggles by getting outscored 40-26 in that period. Part of that was the Hawks’ continued success on 3-pointers, adding four more in that category.

“Not communicating with our switches,” Lue said about what went wrong after the first period. “We have to clean up every area. We weren’t good on defense after the first quarter.”

Despite being held to just 40 percent from the field in the third, the Hawks increased their lead by two, getting multiple second-chance opportunities and also showing solid ball movement with 10 assists in the period. Hood was one of the few bright spots in the quarter for the Cavs, scoring all 13 of his points.

A comeback in the final period never materialized, with the Hawks boosting their lead to as many as the final 22-point margin. Much like the second quarter, the fourth saw the Cavaliers struggle on the defensive side, allowing 41 points in the period.

“The last three quarters were pretty damn alarming,” Love said when asked if he was alarmed about how the game evolved.

Larry Nance Jr. saw his first action of the season after sitting out the first two games of the season, finishing with nine points, four rebounds and four assists in 17 minutes.

“We just have to have five guys on the same page, but that comes with time,” Nance said.

The Cavaliers stay at home for their next contest, hosting the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night, with the game set to tip off just after 7 p.m. ET. That will be the first portion of back-to-back games, with the second contest taking place in Detroit on Thursday night.

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