Cleveland, OH – Kyrie Irving poured in a game-high 33 points on Wednesday, including 18 in the third quarter, to help the Cleveland Cavaliers claim a 99-83 victory over the Atlanta Hawks at Quicken Loans Arena.
Alonzo Gee knocked down five 3-pointers en route to 15 points, while Tyler Zeller and Tristan Thompson each posted double-doubles for the Cavs, who had lost five of their last six coming in.
Zeller finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds, while Thompson tallied 11 points and 14 boards.
Josh Smith stuffed the stat sheet with 17 points, eight rebounds, six blocks and four assists for the Hawks. Jeff Teague donated 15 points and eight assists in the setback, Atlanta's fourth in a row.
Cleveland led 49-40 at the break, but the Hawks opened the third quarter on an 11-2 run to knot the game at 51-51 just under three minutes into the stanza.
The Cavs answered with an 11-2 surge of their own, which Irving capped with a fadeaway jumper that pushed Cleveland's lead back to nine just past the midpoint of the period.
Atlanta pulled within four later in the frame, but Irving netted his team's final 12 points of the quarter to give Cleveland a 77-63 advantage heading into the fourth.
"In the third quarter we didn't come out the right way, but we were able to gather ourselves and get right back into it," Cleveland coach Byron Scott remarked. "We did a good job of (playing smart)."
Cleveland kept the visitors at arm's length in the fourth, never allowing the Hawks to get closer than nine over the final 12 minutes to secure the victory.
Four of Gee's triples came in the first quarter, with the last giving the Cavs a 24-20 advantage with 3:22 left in the frame, but the Hawks answered with an 8-2 spurt to take a 28-26 lead with under a minute remaining.
Irving then buried a buzzer-beating triple to send his team into the second quarter with a one-point edge, and the Cavs opened the second on a 10-2 spurt to push the lead to 39-30 with 6 1/2 minutes left in the half.
After Kyle Korver knocked down a pair of treys around an Al Horford hook shot to bring the Hawks back within one, Cleveland closed the quarter on another 10-2 spurt to carry a 49-40 advantage into the break.
"I think we just spent too much time trying to fight back," Horford admitted. "I don't think it has to do with anything we are doing wrong. I just think that the energy and the effort is not all there."
Cleveland improved to 4-12 at home ... Cleveland center Anderson Varejao will undergo surgery on Thursday to repair a muscle that split near his right knee and is expected to miss the next 6-to-8 weeks. He has missed 11 straight games with a bruised right knee ... Atlanta outscored Cleveland in the paint, 40-28, and outrebounded the Cavs by a 46-45 margin ... Zeller's 12 rebounds are a career high.