ATLANTA — Power forward Mike Scott’s name had been missing lately on the Atlanta Hawks stat sheet. Over the previous four games, he had totaled only 16 points and was not much of a factor. That changed dramatically on Friday night.
The second-year player from Virginia came off the bench to score 26 points and pace Atlanta to a 117-98 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night. Scott was nearly perfect from the floor, going 12-for-13, including one 3-pointer. He fell four points shy of his career high.
“They got me the ball and I tried to make some shots,” Scott said. “We took good care of the ball.”
The win gave Atlanta a three-game season sweep of its series with Cleveland and stretched its winning streak against the Cavs to four games. The Hawks have won two of three games, and Cleveland lost for only the second time in seven games.
The win, coupled with New York’s loss to Washington, moved Atlanta into the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“Mike Scott was good on both ends,” said Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer. “He was active and he was a big difference maker.”
Scott sparked an Atlanta bench that outscored Cleveland 54-25. He scored 11 points in the second quarter when he went 5-for-5 from the field.
“The bench was exceptional,” Budenholzer said. “Elton Brand’s defense and leadership and Lou Williams made some big shots.” Brand, the backup center, had eight points and five rebounds, and Williams, the reserve guard, scored 16.
Atlanta (33-43) got 20 points — 15 in the second half — and 12 assists from guard Jeff Teague, who had his 13th double-double of the season. Forward Paul Millsap added 16 points and 11 rebounds for his 26th double-double.
Atlanta, which never trailed, had its biggest offensive night since scoring 118 against Toronto on March 18.
Cleveland (31-46) was led by guard Dion Waiters with 23 points and center Spencer Hawes with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Forward Loul Deng and guard Kyrie Irving each scored 13.
“Give those guys a ton of credit,” Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. “They had us on our heels all night.”
The Hawks put together their most productive first quarter of the season. They shot 66.7 percent from the floor (14-for-21) and had six different players make a 3-pointer. Atlanta put 39 points on the board, its best of the season in the first quarter, and led by 16 points.
“The start we got off to was important,” Budenholzer said. “Defensively it was a good first quarter. We feed off the ball movement and the defense was strong all night.”
Atlanta stretched its lead to 23 points when Williams dropped in a jumper to make it 51-28 with 8:15 left in the half.
That is when the Cavs began to get serious on defense. They forced seven turnovers in the quarter and changed the momentum by finishing the half with a 21-10 run that trimmed their deficit to 61-49 at intermission.
Atlanta regained the momentum by starting the second half with an 8-1 run and pushed the advantage to 69-50 on a 3-pointer by forward DeMarre Carroll with 8:40 left.
Hawes tried to single-handedly get the Cavs back in the game by scoring seven straight points and 13 in the third quarter. But Teague had four assists and nine points in the quarter, including a driving layup at the buzzer that gave Atlanta a 90-73 lead.
The loss damaged Cleveland’s fleeting postseason hopes. The Cavs are now 2 1/2 games behind Atlanta for the eighth playoff spot.
“It doesn’t feel like it’s over, but this loss is very devastating,” Brown said.
NOTES: Entering Friday’s game, Cleveland G Dion Walters had scored 202 points in nine games since being inserted in the starting lineup. Walters, who had 26 points at Orlando on Wednesday, became a starter on March 18 when G Kyrie Irving was injured. He has led or shared the team lead in scoring in six of the nine games. … Injury report: Cleveland C Anderson Varejao returned to action after missing a game with a sprained right AC joint. G. CJ Miles (left ankle sprain) and G Carrick Felix (left patellar stress fracture) were out and F Anthony Bennett was excused for personal reasons. Atlanta C Al Horford (right pectoral muscle surgery), F Gustavo Ayon (right shoulder surgery) and G John Jenkins (lower back surgery) remain sidelined for the season. … Atlanta plays again at Indiana on Sunday. Three of Atlanta’s final seven games are on the road. Cleveland hosts Charlotte on Saturday and will play four of its final five games at home.
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