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Mark Bradley

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Hawks' shots stopped falling; J.R. Smith's didn't stop

DeMarre Carroll, in obvious pain. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

These short takes are presented as a companion to the Hawks-Cavaliers game column, which can be found here. The Hawks lost Game 1. The final score was 97-89.

1. The Hawks scored 26 points in the first quarter, and then it all went wrong. They made 61.1 percent of their shots in the first 12 minutes; they made 39 percent thereafter. Cleveland’s defense was a step off early, but by the second quarter the Hawks’ offense was essentially rendered a Jeff Teague drive or nothing. He finished with 27 points, which is good, but four assists, which isn’t. Kyle Korver got only five shots, making three. Paul Millsap made three baskets. The Hawks missed 19-of-23 treys. Even worse, this share-the-ball team made only 19 assists. The Cavaliers’ defense scored a knockout in Game 1.

2. Who shot? J.R. did. Without Kevin Love, injured in the final game of Round 1, Cleveland was forced to recalibrate on offense. In Game 1, the Cavaliers found a one-man gang, and that one man wasn’t LeBron James. (Although LeBron did manage 31 points, eight rebounds and six assists.) The sub J.R. Smith turned the game in the second quarter and won it in the third and fourth. He took 12 3-point shots; he made eight of them. He finished with 28 points in 35 minutes. The Hawks ran different players at him — Kyle Korver and Kyle Bazemore — and nobody could do a thing.

3. DeMarre Carroll’s injury cast a pall over an already gloomy night. He was hurt on a fast break with 4:59 remaining after stealing a James pass, and Carroll was half-carried from the floor by teammates. The Hawks announced that he had a knee sprain and will undergo an MRI on Thursday. For the man whom the Hawks were hoping could chase James all series, the sight of him in such obvious distress was a massive downer. (Although the last-gasp rally was fueled by Bazemore, who might well be forced to become James’ shadow. Remember, Thabo Sefolosha isn’t available.)

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About the Author

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been with the AJC since 1984.