Alonzo Gee scored 15 points for Cleveland, while Tristan Thompson added 11 points and 14 rebounds. Rookie Tyler Zeller, who moved into the starting lineup after Varejao was injured Dec. 18, scored 11 points and had a career-high 12 rebounds.
Jeff Teague added 15 points for Atlanta and Horford scored 14.
Atlanta's frustration was best summed up when Smith shot an airball from the free throw line midway through the fourth quarter with the Hawks trailing 88-76. With the crowd jeering, he also missed the second shot and the Hawks slowly went up the court to play defense. Atlanta tied a franchise low by attempting five free throws. The Hawks made two, a league low for the season.
C.J. Miles (back spasms), Daniel Gibson (concussion) and Luke Walton (personal matter) also missed the game for Cleveland.
Hawks point guard Devin Harris played for the first time since Dec. 18 after missing 11 games because of a sore left foot. Guards Anthony Morrow (strained right hip) and DeShawn Stevenson (sore knee) didn't play.
Cleveland, which hit seven 3-pointers in the opening quarter, led for most of the first half. Atlanta tied the game at 51 early in the third quarter, but the Cavaliers surged ahead thanks mostly to Irving, who dazzled the Hawks with jump shots and drives to the basket that resulted in free throws. He also hit two 3-pointers, including one from a couple of feet behind the arc with 1.9 seconds remaining to give Cleveland a 77-63 lead.
Drew, who criticized his team's effort following a 108-103 loss to the Timberwolves, didn't back down from the words before playing the Cavaliers, saying he emphasized his point in a breakfast meeting with his players Wednesday.
"Things aren't going too good for us right now," Smith said. "You're going to have struggles like this throughout the season. We've got to get back to playing beautiful basketball."