ATLANTA (AP) — Dejounte Murray sank three free throws with 2:14 remaining to give Atlanta the lead and added a fall-away jumper with less than a minute left to lead the Hawks to a 120-118 win over the short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night.
Murray led Atlanta with 29 points and Onyeka Okongwu added a season-high 21. The Hawks remained tied with Toronto, which beat Miami 106-92 on Tuesday night, for the eighth-best record in the Eastern Conference.
The Cavaliers held out starting forward Isaac Okoro (left knee soreness) and center Jarrett Allen (strained right groin) and were led by Donovan Mitchell’s 44 points. Mitchell tied LeBron James’ Cavaliers record of 10 games of 40-or-more points in a season.
With Atlanta’s win, NBA- and Eastern Conference-leading Milwaukee clinched the Central Division title.
After Murray’s jumper gave Atlanta a 119-115 lead, Mitchell’s 3-pointer cut the lead to one point. Mitchell missed another 3 with 12.5 seconds remaining. After Trae Young made one of two free throws with 3 seconds remaining, Mitchell’s last-gasp 3-pointer from beyond half court hit the back iron.
The Cavaliers, who were knocked out of last season’s Eastern Conference play-in tournament by Atlanta, locked up their first playoff spot since 2018 by beating Houston 108-91 on Sunday.
Mitchell passed 10,000 career points in his reunion with Hawks coach Quin Snyder, the former Utah coach. Mitchell played for Snyder for five seasons (2017-22) in Utah. Snyder was hired by Atlanta on Feb. 26, after the Hawks fired Nate McMillan.
Mitchell began the night 13 points away from 10,000 points and passed the mark on a layup to open the second half.
Snyder said he is not surprised to see Mitchell, who is averaging a career-best 27.4 points per game, thriving with Cleveland.
“Donovan and I were together a long time, longer than anybody I had in college,” Snyder said before the game.
“The way he’s playing now, it’s not surprising to me in the slightest. … I think the world of him, obviously.”
Atlanta led by 15 points, at 51-36, in the second quarter. Cleveland recovered to briefly take the lead in the third period before the Hawks regained momentum for a 94-84 advantage entering the fourth quarter.
The Cavaliers leaned heavily on Mitchell, whose 3-pointer gave Cleveland a 109-108 lead with 4:51 remaining.
Mike Brey, who stepped down as Notre Dame’s coach after posting a 483-280 record in 23 seasons, visited the Hawks’ shootaround practice Tuesday morning.
“We go back like 35 years,” Snyder said. “… I don’t know what he’s going to be doing, but it’s good to see him and have him with us.”
Cavaliers: Darius Garland scored 27 points. … Coach J.B. Bickerstaff said he was protecting Okoro. “Big picture, we want to take care of him,” said Bickerstaff, who said Okoro was “extremely disappointed because Isaac wants to play all 82 games.” … F Caris LeVert and F Lamar Stevens were the fill-in starters with Evan Mobley, who had 20 points and 15 rebounds, moving to center. … PF Dean Wade (non-COVID illness) and G Raul Neto (left hamstring strain) also did not play.
Hawks: Young scored 16 points with 10 assists. He missed his first four shots from the field and was scoreless before sinking two free throws with 3:37 remaining in the first half. … F Jalen Johnson (groin, hamstring) missed his seventh straight game.
Cavaliers: Host New York Knicks on Friday.
Hawks: Visit Brooklyn on Friday.