ATLANTA (AP) — Paul Millsap took over for Atlanta in the fourth quarter to help hold off a Cleveland comeback and the Hawks beat the Cavaliers, who were without LeBron James, 109-101 on Tuesday night.
James, celebrating his 30th birthday, was held out with a sore left knee.
The Hawks led by 17 points early in the second half but had to hold off a comeback by Cleveland, which had 35 points from Kyrie Irving.
After a jam by Tristan Thompson cut the Atlanta lead to 93-90, Millsap scored Atlanta’s next eight points. Millsap led the Hawks with 26 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter.
Jeff Teague had 23 points and 11 assists, and Kyle Korver sank five 3-pointers while scoring 19 points.
Thompson had 18 points and 13 rebounds for Cleveland.
James’ status is day to day.
“Obviously, we want to get him right,” coach David Blatt said after James was pulled from the starting lineup about 90 minutes before the game.
James wore a gray suit as he watched the game from the bench. He shared a hug and laugh with singer Usher, who had a front-row seat near the Cavaliers’ bench, during a timeout.
James also was held out of Cleveland’s Dec. 11 game at Oklahoma City with soreness in the knee.
The Cavaliers have lost three of four. Before the game, Blatt addressed speculation of unrest on the team.
“I didn’t feel a necessity to talk to the guys about that because that’s simply not the case,” Blatt said. “And just because things are reported or said, it doesn’t mean that they’re true.
“We have a very good group. Close knit. Guys are engaged, guys are listening. We went through a couple of tough games. A few short games ago we were 18-10 and looking good.”
The Hawks also had a late lineup change. Pero Antic started for center Al Horford. The Hawks said Horford felt nauseated during pregame warmups. Horford did not play.
The Hawks closed the first half with a 14-3 run for a 51-41 lead. Thabo Sefolosha’s three-point play — a steal, basket and free throw — capped the run. The Cavaliers cut the lead to 78-73 entering the final period.
Following an Atlanta turnover when Dennis Schroder’s pass hit Antic’s head, Cleveland’s Joe Harris hit a 3-pointer to pull the Cavaliers to within three points at 85-82. Harris had 13 points.
Cavaliers forward Kevin Love had seven points and seven rebounds, making only one of eight shots from the field, before leaving the game in the third quarter with back spasms.
Cavaliers: G Matthew Dellavedova made his fourth start of the season. … F Shawn Marion (left ankle sprain) did not play. … The Cavaliers shot only 34.1 percent from the field in the first half and made only 6 of 21 shots (28.6) in the second quarter.
Hawks: Antic had five points in his first start of the season. … Shelvin Mack, who set a career high with 24 points in Atlanta’s 127-98 win at Cleveland on Dec. 17, did not play. … Two players were assigned to NBA Development League teams — guard John Jenkins to Idaho Stampede and center Adreian Payne to Austin.
Cavaliers: Host Milwaukee on Wednesday.
Hawks: At Utah on Friday.
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