ATLANTA: The Hawks’ closer hit his final shot. The Cavs’ closer didn’t.
As a result, the Cavs staggered out of Philips Arena on Wednesday with a difficult 103-102 overtime loss to Atlanta, extending their losing streak in the series to seven games after they squandered a six-point lead in the final 1:27.
Joe Johnson struggled miserably with his shot most of the night, but he sank the 3-pointer at the fourth-quarter buzzer to force overtime and swished the go-ahead basket with 18 seconds left to give the Hawks their one and only lead of the overtime session.
The Cavs had a chance to win it, but Irving’s bank shot bounced off the rim and into the arms of Alonzo Gee.
Gee tried to grab the rebound and flip it back up all in one motion – while hanging in the air – but the ball bounced off the side of the rim as the buzzer sounded.
The Cavs have dropped four of their last five, but this one particularly stung since the Cavs held a 16-point lead in the second quarter and a 101-95 lead with 1:27 left in overtime.
The Hawks tied the game at 101 within two possessions when Gee went for a steal and left Johnson open in the corner for a 3-pointer. Following a miss by Antawn Jamison, Josh Smith converted a three-point play when Jamison fouled him and the game was tied at 101 with 58 seconds left.
Irving had 29 points, nine rebounds and nine assists and Jamison had 23 points. Smith had 32 points and 17 rebounds and Johnson had 22 points for the Hawks, who haven’t lost to the Cavs since April 2, 2010.
Johnson began the game just 2 of 12 shooting, but made 5 of 7 shots to end the game. His 3-pointer from the top of the arc, with Anthony Parker’s hand in his face, tied the game at 91 and forced overtime as Parker threw his hands in the air in disbelief.