Cavaliers suffer another 4th-quarter meltdown in 126-125 OT loss to Hawks

ATLANTA (AP) — Paul Millsap scored 22 points and the Atlanta Hawks took advantage of Cleveland’s fourth-quarter collapse to overcome a 26-point deficit and stun the Cavaliers 126-125 on Sunday.

Kyrie Irving scored 45 points for Cleveland, and LeBron James had a triple-double with 32 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists before the four-time MVP fouled out in overtime.

Tim Hardaway Jr. added 21 points to help Atlanta beat Cleveland for the second straight time.

The defending champion Cavaliers dropped into a tie with Boston atop the Eastern Conference. Both teams have two regular-season games remaining. If the Cavs and Celtics finish with the same record, Cleveland will get the top seed for winning the season series.

The Hawks wiped out a 26-point deficit in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Cavs 44-18 in the period and forcing overtime on Millsap’s baseline jumper at the buzzer.

Millsap hit a 3 with 1:12 left in overtime to make it 118-116 for Atlanta’s first lead of the game. Mike Muscala’s 3-pointer from the right corner put the Hawks back up by one with 35 seconds left.

Atlanta seized the outcome in the final 21 seconds after Kent Bazemore stole an inbound pass from Kevin Love for a layup and Hardaway hit three free throws.

Atlanta looked disinterested for three quarters, so coach Mike Budenholzer went with two starters, Millsap and Hardaway, and several reserves the rest of the way.

James made a couple of mistakes in the closing seconds of regulation. He committed a turnover by failing to inbound the ball with 18 seconds remaining and fouled Millsap on a 3 attempt 10 seconds later. Millsap hit all three foul shots to make it 111-109 with 8 seconds to go.

Irving, despite pregame soreness on his surgically repaired right knee, scored 15 points in the first quarter. His 3 at the 7:22 mark gave Cleveland its first double-digit lead. The Cavs were up 38-21 entering the second with Irving dribbling and shooting at his leisure against the Hawks’ sloppy defense.

The playoff-bound Hawks began the game with no momentum after their reserves surprised the Cavs with a 14-point win Friday at Cleveland. At 42-38, they are 1 1/2 games ahead of Milwaukee for fifth place in the East.

TOO MANY MINUTES?

Irving played 45 minutes despite soreness in his surgically repaired right knee. He limped off the floor in the third on Friday and returned to play in the fourth, but coach Tyronn Lue said his star point guard had some flaring issues before the game.

3 MACHINE

Cleveland went 19 for 46 beyond the arc, extending its single-season franchise record of hitting at least 15 in 27 games. The Cavs began the game ranked second in the league in treys made and third in 3-point percentage. They’ve hit 44 in their last two games at Philips Arena, setting the NBA single-game record with 25 in a 135-130 victory on March 3.

TIP-INS:

Cavs: Waived DeLandre Liggins to create an open roster spot in case C Tristan Thompson is sidelined for the playoffs with a sprained right thumb. Thompson has missed three straight games but made the two-game road trip.

Hawks: Had lost 12 of 13 in the series, including the playoffs, before Friday’s win.

UP NEXT

Cavaliers: Visit Miami, where they’ve lost 12 straight, on Monday.

Hawks: Host Charlotte on Tuesday. They are 0-3 in the season series.