CLEVELAND (AP) — Your shot, Warriors.
Dropping jumpers from every corner and angle, the Cleveland Cavaliers drained an NBA record 25 3-pointers — the most in any regular season or playoff game — during a 123-98 runaway win over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night in Game 2 of their second-round series.
J.R. Smith made seven 3s as the Cavs, looking like an Eastern Conference version of Golden State’s Splash Brothers, had the most prolific outside shooting game of any team in league history.
From the outset, they were on target and on a tear, and afterward LeBron James struggled to explain it.
“Tonight was a special night for all of us who played,” he said. “This league has seen so many great teams, so many great players and great shooters and for us to set an all-time record is truly special.”
James made four 3s and scored 27 points for the defending conference champions, who were able to rest their starters for the entire fourth quarter. Their arms were tired.
Cleveland finished 25 of 45 behind the arc and had 10 players make at least one 3.
Even the team’s furry mascot, Moondog, got in on the act by making an over-the-head, backward fling from half court on his first try in the final minutes.
“When they put those shots down, I don’t know if anyone can beat them, to be honest,” said Atlanta’s Kyle Korver, one of the game’s deadliest shooters. “We were hoping that they’d start missing at some point.”
The Cavs never did.
They made 18 3-pointers in the first half and added seven more after halftime to embarrass the Hawks, who have lost 10 straight postseason games to Cleveland.
The Cavs spent the final few minutes chasing history and when reserve Dahntay Jones dropped the Cavs’ 24th 3 with 2:24 left, it bettered the mark of 23 previously held by Orlando (2009) and Houston (2013). Mo Williams added another 3 for good measure.
The Warriors, who beat the Cavs in last year’s Finals and seem to be on a collision course with them again, recently set the postseason mark by making 21 3-pointers. Stephen Curry and Co. have a new bar to aim at.
Smith made six 3-pointers in the first half — the Cavs knocked down seven straight during one dizzying stretch — as Cleveland built a 38-point lead over the stunned Hawks, who will head home for Friday’s Game 3 down 2-0 in the series and utterly demoralized.
There was little Atlanta defenders could do against the Cavs, who stood behind the line, took aim and dropped shot after shot after shot.
After making Cleveland’s 16th 3-pointer in the first half, the easygoing Smith skipped back on defense like a little kid on a schoolyard playground as Cleveland’s towel-waving fans danced with delight and smelled blood.
“When he’s making shots, it’s contagious,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said.
By halftime, the Hawks were down 74-38 and finished. The team posted on its official Twitter account, “If you take away their 3s, we’re right in this.”
Cleveland went past Golden State’s record when Kyrie Irving nailed a 3-pointer with 5:06 left in the third quarter. But that wasn’t even enough to satisfy the ravenous sellout crowd which was still chanting “Let’s Go Cavs!” with Cleveland leading by 40 points.
Paul Millsap scored 16 points and Jeff Teague added 14 for the Hawks, who need to regroup quickly or they’ll get swept by the Cavs for the second straight year.
Here’s the kind of night it was for Atlanta: Millsap knocked down a long 3-pointer to end the first quarter, but replays showed it came after the horn and was disallowed.
Not that it would have mattered much.
“That was overwhelming,” Hawks guard Kent Bazemore said. “I thought they shot (really well) in Game 1, but that was amazing.”
NBA teams are required to send at least one player to the postgame news conference, but none of the Hawks was eager to step to the podium.
Seldom-used backup center Mike Muscala, who played 14 minutes, eventually agreed to represent Atlanta.
LET LOVE RULE
Kevin Love wasn’t slowed from injuring his right shoulder in Game 1 and finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds for the Cavs.
Hawks: Korver scored seven points after being limited to one shot in the opener. … Cavaliers assistant Larry Drew coached the Hawks from 2010-2013, compiling a 128-102 record. . Atlanta’s 108 regular season wins over the last two years are a franchise record.
Cavaliers: James refused to comment on reports that he will star in “Space Jam 2,” a sequel to the popular Warner Bros. film with Michael Jordan. “My team is handling that, and I’m not going to take my focus off what my job is right now and that’s being in the postseason,” he said. … In addition to passing Tim Duncan for fifth place on the career playoff scoring list, James played in his 184th postseason game, tying him with Robert Parish for 13th place in history.