CLEVELAND: The Cavaliers were up seven with 6:11 left in regulation. They led by four with 1:24 left in the first overtime and by five with 2:50 left in the second overtime.
Yet there was Jeff Teague lying on the court celebrating around his teammates after his final shot hit the rim five times and fell through. There were the Cavs, shuffling off the court following their second defeat at the buzzer in their last four home games.
The Hawks beat the Cavs in double overtime Thursday 127-125 because the Cavs turned the ball over far too much and they couldn’t get a defensive stop when they needed one. Mike Brown lamented this team’s lack of a defensive mentality before the game, then watched it come to fruition again to extend the Cavs’ losing streak to three straight and five of their last six.
“We still don’t understand we can win games by getting stops at least sometimes defensively,” Brown said. “That’s a big downfall of ours.”
Teague missed a running jumper in the final second of regulation that could’ve won the game for the Hawks, then made a wide-open 3-pointer coming off a screen at the end of the first overtime to force the second. His final shot capped a wild second overtime that included loose balls, jump balls, timeouts and multiple official reviews that seemed to stop play every 10 seconds.
Kyrie Irving tied the game at 125 with 56 seconds left in the second overtime, but the Hawks held the ball the rest of the game thanks to an offensive rebound and a jump ball that Anderson Varejao tipped out of bounds.
After the defensive chaos at the end of the first overtime that ended with bodies piled up and Teague wide open, the Cavs switched defensively at the end of the second overtime. Irving passed Teague off to Tristan Thompson, who noticed the mismatch immediately and got Thompson off balance with a jab step, then stepped back for the jumper in the lane.
Teague was terrific with 34 points, 14 assists (and six turnovers). He took the bulk of the big shots in the second overtime since the Hawks were without Al Horford, who left the game with a shoulder injury and did not return.
“Made him take a tough, contested 2 and you just have to live with the results,” Irving said. “He made a tough shot.”
The Cavs also lost to the Portland Trail Blazers recently when Damian Lillard made a long 3-pointer in the game’s final second. This one stung even worse, perhaps, because the Cavs had the lead at the end of regulation and both overtimes.
“It’s tough, especially that one,” Dion Waiters said. “We could’ve put them away multiple times. It’s tough.”
Varejao tied a season-high with 17 rebounds, but the Cavs equaled their season high of 24 turnovers. The two teams combined for 45 turnovers.
“You think if you shoot 52 percent from the floor and you score 125 points in two overtimes you have a chance to win if you get some stops the right way, especially at the end of the game,” Brown said. “But somehow, some way we have to figure out we can’t outscore everybody. Every once in a while, we have to bear down and get stops.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at https://ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.