Published Saturday, December 29, 2012
CLEVELAND (AP) – Atlanta coach Larry Drew had a simple message for Jeff Teague a few days ago: Be more aggressive.
The Hawks point guard is a good listener. Teague posted a career-high 27 points and Atlanta scored the game's final nine points to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 102-94 on Friday night.
"I'd like to take credit for it, but I can't," Drew said. "He just came out and played. When he plays with that energy, he makes us a much better team."
Teague's jumper from the foul line gave the Hawks a 95-94 lead with 2:32 remaining to spark the late run.
"I was just being aggressive," he said. "Coach pulled me aside after the Philly game and told me to bring more energy."
Teague's performance wasn't lost on his teammates, who felt he was the difference in the victory that sent Atlanta to its third straight win and raised its road record to 8-4.
"Jeff was great tonight," Hawks center Zaza Pachulia said. "This was the best game in his career. He scored my jersey number (27). We need Jeff to play like this."
Kyrie Irving led Cleveland with 28 points, but the Cavaliers failed to score in the final 2:53 after taking a 94-93 lead.
Lou Williams scored 16 points for Atlanta while Al Horford added 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Dion Waiters scored 18 points for Cleveland, which had its season-high two-game winning streak end.
Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao, the league's leading rebounder, missed his fifth straight game with a bruised right knee. He's also been ruled out of Saturday's game against Brooklyn.
Both teams also sustained injuries during the game. Hawks forward Josh Smith didn't play in the fourth quarter after aggravating a hip flexor, but said he should play in Saturday's game against Indiana. Cavaliers guard Daniel Gibson sustained a concussion after colliding with Anthony Morrow in the second quarter. He was down on the court for several minutes before walking to the locker room. Gibson didn't return and won't play Saturday.
Irving's drive gave Cleveland a 94-93 lead with 2:53 to play, but the Cavaliers didn't score again.
"I wasn't really happy with the execution the last two or three minutes," coach Byron Scott said. "That's an understatement and I let them know."
Teague's jumper gave Atlanta the lead for good. Horford followed with a jump shot for a three-point lead before Kyle Korver's 3-pointer stretched the lead to eight with 1:21 remaining.
"This is a big win for our club," Drew said. "We were short-handed and played a team in Cleveland that has been playing well and probably had some confidence coming into this game."
Atlanta scored the game's first eight points and lead by as many as 11 in the first half. The Cavaliers chipped away at the lead in the second quarter and Irving hit a running 30-footer to beat the halftime buzzer to cut Atlanta's lead to 55-54. The shot brought the crowd to its feet and Irving exchanged chest bumps with several teammates as he ran to the locker room.
"It was a momentum push for us, but it doesn't mean anything now," he said.
The basket seemed to spark the Cavaliers, who scored the first six points of the second half and raced to a 68-59 lead.
Atlanta used a 16-6 run to take a 75-74 lead. Cleveland led 80-75 going into the fourth quarter, but Atlanta went on another spurt to take an 83-82 lead on Teague's dunk following a steal.
C.J. Miles and Irving followed with 3-pointers to put Cleveland ahead 88-83, but Atlanta rallied again. The Hawks avenged a 113-11 loss in Atlanta on Nov. 30. Atlanta has won its last four games in Cleveland. The Cavaliers haven't won three in a row since March 7-11 of last season. Cleveland has also lost four straight at Quicken Loans Arena.
Morrow strained his right hip in the second quarter and didn't return.
NOTES: Atlanta F Ivan Johnson remained at the team's hotel because of the stomach flu. He became ill Friday morning and also missed the team's shootaround. .... G DeShawn Stevenson (sore knee) sat out the game, but is expected to play Saturday against Indiana. ... G Devin Harris (sore foot) missed his fifth straight game. ... The Cavaliers assigned F Samardo Samuels to Canton of the NBA Development League. He's averaging 3.2 points and 1.6 rebounds in 18 games. ... F Luke Harangody, waived by Cleveland this month, had his Development League rights traded by Canton to Fort Wayne.
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