Kyrie Irving finished with 45 points, and was too financially conscious to rip the referees afterward. However, the Hawks answered back with seven straight points before LeBron James fouled out with 1:52 left.
The Cavs led 93-67 after three quarters. However, they were outscored 44-18 in the final period and watched their huge lead drop to just four with 52.6 seconds to go in regulation and then three points with 13 seconds remaining. Paul Millsap hit a buzzer-beater to send the game into overtime and the Hawks pulled out for a 126-125 win. Fast-forward, and the Hawks have now won their last three games against the top two seeds in the Eastern Conference in the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
All the Cavaliers have to do to clinch the top spot in the East is win one of their two remaining regular-season contests. The Cavs won't have a chance if they don't play better than they did while losing to the Hawks at The Q. "I think J.R. (Smith) and Korver and Kevin (Love) and those guys should play a little bit because they've been out for so long and just try to keep J.R.'s rhythm and establish Kevin's rhythm and the same thing with Kyle.".
Cleveland blew a 26-point lead in a loss to Atlanta on Sunday.
Cleveland led 65-46 at half time. Coach Tyronn Lue called it "just stupid", and it was.
Even Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer noted: "A fourth quarter like that is hard to explain".
"I'm not discouraged. It was a tough loss for us, but that's the way the game goes", Lue said.
Miami survived despite Cleveland getting two four-point plays in overtime, including one by Williams with 34 seconds left that put the Heat on the brink. We had some good moments, and we had some not-so-good moments.
The Celtics scored the game's next 9 points and didn't get rattled when the Hornets briefly jumped back out front.
That certainly wasn't the case in the fourth quarter on Sunday. But if Boston sweeps, which could happen, and the Cavs lose one?
The last time a team leading by more than 26 points ended up losing the game was the Los Angeles Lakers, losing to the Dallas Mavericks in December 2002, according to ESPN Stats and Information.
The playoff-bound Hawks began the game with no momentum after their reserves surprised the Cavs with a 14-point win Friday at Cleveland. The Cavaliers have gone 5-5 in their last 10 games and are 20-19 away from Quicken Loans Arena this season.
Irving alluded to rest and recuperation being important at this point of the season.
It's pretty troubling that the LeBron James-led defending National Basketball Association champion expected to make it to a third straight Finals comes off an embarrassing loss to what was nearly a D-League roster, and the coach comes out and says, "That's who we are". Let's examine the remaining schedules for all three East contenders and see how various tiebreaker scenarios may play out in the coming weeks.
The Cavaliers will then finish their regular season Wednesday night when they host the Toronto Raptors.