Archives For December 2013

RECAP: Hawks 92, Celtics 91

Raj Prashad —  December 31, 2013

FINAL

BOS(13-18) 91 – 92 (18-14) ATL

Key Performers:
P. Millsap (ATL): 34 pts, 15 reb, 2 ast, 2 stl, 2 blk
K. Olynyk (BOS): 21 pts, 4 reb, 5 ast, 2 blk
[FULL BOX SCORE]

For much of the afternoon, the Hawks, as a team, couldn’t get anything in the basket. After falling back by 18 points in the second quarter, Atlanta bounced back and used a 30-6 run to fight through the third quarter. Using great defense on a buzzer-beating Jordan Crawford attempt and a strong individual effort from Paul Millsap, the Hawks fought back for a strong win on the road.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Paul Millsap: Atlanta can’t count on this every night from Millsap, but the forward was fantastic yet again as Al Horford’s replacement. He scored a season-high 34 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in the win. This was just the second 30-point/15-board game of Millsap’s career, but he definitely made it count. 10/10

Jeff Teague: The point guard woke up in the second half, scoring 12 points and grabbing six rebounds in the final two quarters alone. He also played fantastic defense on Jordan Crawford, stifling Boston’s point guard for much of the afternoon. 8/10

Elton Brand: Brand looked tired again, unable to keep up with Boston’s bigs in the paint. He had just four points and one rebound in 12 minutes. 4/10

Mike Scott: Coach Bud continues to shuffle Atlanta’s lineups in Horford’s absence, this time pushing Scott in as a starter. The forward responded with a tough shooting night, notching eight points on 12 shots and seven rebounds. It will be interesting to see how much time he will get at the 3-position, something Coach Bud initially didn’t want him to do, going forward. 5/10

Kyle Korver: It took until the fourth quarter, but Korver finally knocked down a three to extend his streak to 101 games with a make from distance. The sharpshooter turned that into a four-point play, drawing a foul and igniting Atlanta’s offense to the win. He never forced the ball, instead making the right passes and looking for better shots for his teammates despite the streak hanging over his head. 7/10 Continue Reading…

RECAP: Magic 109, Hawks 102

Bo Churney —  December 29, 2013

FINAL

ORL(10-20) 109 – 102 (17-14) ATL

Key Performers:
N. Vucevic (ORL): 16 pts, 14 reb, 2 ast, 3 stl
J. Teague (ATL): 22 pts, 3 reb, 8 ast, 2 stl
[FULL BOX SCORE]

After playing three straight overtime games and being on the second night of a back-to-back, the Hawks’ legs finally gave out a bit. They were a bit slower and Orlando was able to take advantage with their young core of Afflalo, Vucevic, and Oladipo. The Magic outscored the Hawks 46-26 in the paint and out-assisted the Hawks 30-20, which is one of the few times the Hawks have been beat in that department this season.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Paul Millsap: Another great night from the line by Millsap (8-for-10), but he wasn’t that good from the field (4-for-14) or from behind the arc (1-for-6). He also had four turnovers. This might be a common theme throughout the recap, but Paul simply looked a bit tired, which after the what’s been thrown at the Hawks this week, that’s not too surprising. 6/10

Jeff Teague: Teague probably had the most consistent night of all the Hawks, posting the solid 22 and 8 line that you see above. His jumper is finally regaining its form and he had some very nice takes to the basket. The only thing that was wrong with Jeff is that he was running pick-and-rolls with Elton Brand and Pero Antic instead of Al Horford. 9/10

Elton Brand: Not much from Elton tonight. He did have seven points on four shots, but he did not protect the rim as well as the Hawks probably needed him to. He played 19 minutes last night and 14 tonight, so tired legs should not have been a huge problem, but they looked a bit like it for the 34 year old. 4/10

Lou Williams: He got the start because of DeMarre Carroll’s injury and Lou had no issue with putting the rock up. 18 points on 16 shots is not the best, and I’m not sure how I feel about Lou taking 11 3-pointers. Sure, he made four, which would be a league-average percentage, but Lou is better when he is attacking and getting to the free-throw line. 6/10

Kyle Korver: Like Tolliver last night, Arron Afflalo did a good job at staying close to Korver wherever he went. Kyle did extend his 3-point streak to 100 games in the second quarter, but he only took five total shots in the game, which is a huge credit to how Orlando was able to play him. 6/10 Continue Reading…

RECAP: Hawks 118, Bobcats 116

Bo Churney —  December 29, 2013

FINAL

CHA(14-16) 116 – 118 (17-13) ATL

Key Performers:
P. Millsap (ATL): 33 pts, 13 reb, 2 ast, 2 blk
A. Jefferson (CHA): 24 pts, 23 reb
[FULL BOX SCORE]

In their first game without Horford, it looked like the Hawks were going to fall short. The offense was starting to go no where and the defense was easily allowing buckets at the rim.

But then things got going late in the third quarter. The Hawks took a couple of three-pointers from Teague and Lou Williams to keep things close after the third, then relied on the same three-point antics in the fourth quarter. Speaking of antics…

Pero Antic hit a game-tying, one-legged three to send the game into overtime, which was the Hawks’ third consecutive game with extra periods. In the OT, the Hawks got 10 points from Lou Williams, all at the foul line, to close the deal.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Paul Millsap: Millsap was an absolutely monster on the night, scoring 33 points — 12 of which came off of appearances at the foul line — and grabbing 13 rebounds. Millsap did a lot of his damage against his former teammate Al Jefferson, as the two were engaged in battle for the entirety of the game. Jefferson did have the 20-20 game to his credit, but Millsap and co. got the victory. 9.5/10

Jeff Teague: Usually a 20 points, nine assist efforts sticks out at you; not really from the Jeff Teague game. He was quietly efficient, distributed the ball well, and he hit a couple of key shots in the second half to keep the Hawks within striking distance. He played well, just seemed really under the radar the whole time. 9/10

Elton Brand: Elton got the start tonight with Horford’s injury, but I don’t know who much we can expect that in the future. He didn’t do a bad job and was effective on Jefferson when he was in, but he also fouled a lot, which was a limit on his playing time. By the end of the game, the Hawks had gone small and were playing Millsap defensively at center. 6/10

DeMarre Carroll: Not much of a night from DeMarre, but his presence was valuable. He only played 20 minutes, but at least it left the Hawks with a serviceable wing rotation. Like Elton, DeMarre found himself out of the rotation by the end of the game in favor of a smaller lineup. 4.5/10

Kyle Korver: Prop to Anthony Tolliver, who is on the Bobcats now, for keeping Korver under lock-and-key for the majority of the game. Korver was still able to get up a couple of threes and extend his streak to 99 games, but Tolliver forced him into a 3-for-11 shooting night and really defended Korver about as well as anyone I’ve seen since Kyle joined the Hawks last season. 7/10 Continue Reading…

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” – Dr. Suess

I’m just going to cry, thank you very much.

In a press release from the Atlanta Hawks, it was announced that center Al Horford will be out indefinitely due to a complete tear of his right pectoral muscle. Horford suffered the injury during last night’s road game at Cleveland, and had to miss 71 regular season games because of an injury to his left pectoral in the 2012 NBA season.

Horford’s been the centerpiece of the Hawks this season, on both ends of the court. Horford is currently averaging 18.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists a night on 56.7% shooting from the field. The Hawks also allowed 4.8 fewer points per 100 possessions with Horford on the floor as opposed to on the bench. All that said, Horford not being named an All-Star this year would have come as a shock.

According to said Hawks release, general manager Danny Ferry had this to say on the injury: “We will work with Al and complete our due diligence to determine the next best steps for him,” and that “Injuries are part of the challenge of an NBA season.”

With the Hawks in a mixture of a rebuilding/competing direction, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what the right move is here. I’d like to see Horford not play another game this season – or postseason – until 200% healthy given his impact on the squad and place in the team’s core. Although I can’t see it being a possibility, a panic trade wouldn’t be a move I’d entertain unless Atlanta can pull a quick one and nab a decent replacement without having to give up much of anything.

Assuming no roster changes outside of a small signing happens, winning basketball games just got a lot tougher for the Hawks – who are coming off of a big gut-check win over the Cavaliers. We can expect more minutes for Elton Brand and Pero Antic, with no inclination as to who will start. We could see more small-ball with Millsap at the center, something we’ve seen lose to nothing of.

In more injury news, DeMarre Carroll is day-to-day after sustaining a right thumb sprain in the Hawks’ win over Cleveland. X-Rays were negative, meaning Atlanta shouldn’t be missing Carroll for too long.

There has been been a ton of speculation surrounding the Hawks and Rockets center Omer Asik, even after the Rockets rescinded their self-imposed trade deadline. Knowing that, HawksHoop has brought some coverage between Buddy Grizzard monitoring the situation regularly and Bo posting this on Elton Brand. So I figured I would throw my hat in the ring.

To sum up the long version, Millsap is simply a better and more vital player to team success. Sure, everything is contextualized, but Atlanta already has the ninth best defense in the league. Stopping the opponent from scoring hasn’t been an issue. Some nights the team lapses, sure, but over the course of 82 games that happens. There will be nights where the defense fails Atlanta, and that’s okay. So far, they are better on that side of the ball and replacing Millsap with Asik is going to make that more imbalanced.

Next comes the rumor that the Hawks need more of a rim protector in order to thrive. While there is very good reason why rim protector has become a buzzword in NBA circles, Atlanta is already a strong defensive team in the paint. Al Horford’s opponent field goal percentage at the rim is currently 47.2 percent at 6.5 attempts a game. There are only twelve players who contest more shots at a better percentage in the whole league. Most of those players are consistent defensive player of the year candidates such as Joakim Noah, Tyson Chandler, Tim Duncan, and Roy Hibbert. Maybe Horford isn’t elite in the skill, but he’s no Al Jefferson who is allowing 56.3% of his contested attempts to go in. Paul Millsap chips in at times as well. His percentage isn’t the best at 54.9%, but the fact he reaches 9.1 attempts at the rim at their pace is important. Continue Reading…

RECAP: Hawks 127, Cavs 125

Cole Patty —  December 26, 2013

FINAL

CLE(10-18) 125 – 127 (16-13) ATL

Key Performers:
J. Teague (ATL): 34 pts, 3 reb, 14 ast, 3 stl
K. Irving (CLE): 40 pts, 2 reb, 9 ast, 4 stl
[FULL BOX SCORE]

The main complaint with the Hawks this season was their inconsistent tendencies. When the team won games, like their last meeting with the Cavaliers, they looked like a team that could and should be the third team in the East. When they lost, Atlanta looked more apart of the group with the other borderline playoff squads. Their Jekyll and Hyde tendencies were frustrating, and left viewers puzzled as to what this team could actually achieved.

Tonight was different however. The shots weren’t falling, and they lost Al Horford and DeMarre Carroll to — hopefully non-serious — injury. Playing funky lineups and making scrappy plays wasn’t in the game plan, and this season Atlanta has lost most of the games that have gone this way. Yet, they kept finding a way tonight. Whether it was forcing the kinds of turnovers that didn’t show up as steals, throwing the ball off Cavaliers players to gain possession, or making a simple defensive rebound difficult, this team made the kinds of plays that will go unnoticed. This might not be the teams best win, but if things go in a positive direction for the next 53 games it could very well be their most telling win. The shots didn’t fall their way for a long stretch — the Hawks didn’t lead from 8:03 left in the fourth until 1:06, and only lead for a total of 10 seconds in overtime — but they found a way to get that win.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Al Horford: Up until the injury, Al was the best player on the floor. He hit hook shot after hook shot, added a three, and came away with 25 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and two blocks. He shot 11-17 too, which is hyper efficient for the big man. Hard to ask more out of Al, hopefully the center’s injuries aren’t extensive.  9/10

Jeff Teague: Teague made every important play he possible could have.They tying three to end regulation, a few strips on Kyrie to force turnovers, and the shot that sealed it. He had six turnovers, but it’s extended time helped force a couple of those and he responded well. The latter is huge. Many times Jeff is question because of an apparent lack of focus, but tonight he always had the answers to every tough possible moment. Including when Al Horford went out. 34 points and 14 assists help too.  10/10

Paul Millsap: Paul had some good moments, and he had some bad moments. When Horford went out, it was a little disheartening how the offense struggled when it was ran through him at first. However, when Teague took it over he made some important plays as well. Disrupting Tristan Thompson on a seemingly easy defensive rebound to snag the Hawks an extra possession was the biggest play of the game, until Teague’s shot went later. 7/10

DeMarre Carroll: Carroll struggled on the fast break early, but wasn’t a really net positive or negative in his 26 minutes. 3-7 from the field for 8 points, with zero turnovers is as unspectacular as it looks. The biggest concern is that he is okay after injuring his thumb in regulation. 4/10

Kyle Korver: Korver had so many attempts hit the rim early, and it was frustrating because they were quality looks too. All those misses early came in handy however, as they started falling when they needed to much. 4-12 from three looks like a bad stat-line, but Korver’s four pointer in the second overtime was one of the biggest plays in a game that was filled with them. He even found a way to work in six rebounds and five assists, both crucial in Horford’s absence. 7/10 Continue Reading…

No Smoove, No Problem?

Brandon Barnes —  December 25, 2013

We knew going into this season that one of our franchise players was leaving for the Motor City. We knew that letting him walk was a move that improved our outlook on the future. We knew that we were losing one of the most dynamic forwards in the game.

We knew that bringing in Paul Millsap on a cheap cost-effective STEAL of a contract would help replace him. What we didn’t know, was that some parts of his game would be magically duplicated in different Hawks players this year.

So there’s that. And then there’s the fact that we also miss him deeply in many aspects of the game. It’s tough to replicate Josh Smith’s production, but these Hawks players are doing their best do make us forget about him.

Two is Better Than One

Danny Ferry, in a way, signed two players from Utah who, when combined, show Smoove-like abilities. Millsap has the inside play, DeMarre Carroll has the energy and (sometimes) solid defense (Not at Smoove’s level, but good). Both of them can shoot well from outside, too. Compared to Smoove’s 26% mark from beyond the arc this season, Trillsap and the Junk Yard Dog are shooting 41% and 32%, respectively. Both considerably better than the hometown stud.

Along with this, they both know how to play within their abilities. Sure, DeMarre goes through stretches where he may shoot a little too frequently, but at least they’re relatively open looks and that’s what he was signed in the offseason to do, anyway.

In Paul’s case, he’s a very “smoove” player. Much like Joe Johnson, he seems to be very calm and collected on the court, all while doing what he wishes with the ball in his hands. You don’t see him jawing with refs and getting techs left and right. He plays hard and he plays smart: two things that Danny Ferry wants from every member of the ballclub. Continue Reading…

RECAP: Heat 121, Hawks 119

Bo Churney —  December 24, 2013

FINAL

 MIA(21-6) 121 – 119 (15-13)ATL

Key Performers:
A. Horford (ATL): 21 pts, 11 reb, 3 ast
L. James (MIA): 38 pts, 8 reb, 6 ast, 2 stl
[FULL BOX SCORE]

After falling down quickly in the first quarter due to turnovers, the Hawks rallied back behind a barrage of threes in the second and third quarters and had a double-digit lead at one point. Miami remained unbroken, however, as LeBron and company managed to keep the game within reach and eventually forced overtime. The Hawks had chances at both the end of regulation and the end of overtime to get a victory, but they were denied on both tries.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Al Horford: Al had a few problem handling the ball in the early going, but he rebounded in the second quarter, scoring nine points to lead the Hawks’ charge. (he had a corner three, too!) After that quarter, he was relatively quiet on offense. On defense, he found himself on LeBron a couple of time and actually did quite well. I was impressed. 9/10.

Paul Millsap: Millsap had so many things going for him early on in this game. Obviously, there was his assault from the three-point line, where he hit a career-high seven threes. Outside of that, though… he wasn’t about to convert on two-pointers, although he probably did have some grievances with the officials on some of those plays. Like Horford, Millsap also had some decent defensive plays on LeBron… until he tried to take a charge and was ferociously dunked on. Stop trying to take charges on LeBron, people; just foul him if you’re going to try that. 8/10

Jeff Teague: Even one of Jeff Teague’s best efforts of the season wasn’t enough for the Hawks to overcome Miami. Teague finished the night with 26 points, six rebounds, and eights assists, with his only blemish being his five turnovers and his four misses from the foul line. That said, Jeff was attacking for much of the night, constantly getting to the rim against Mario Chalmers and the swarming Miami defense. 8.5/10

DeMarre Carroll: LeBron is a tough cover, but DeMarre seemed to be doing alright when he was guarding the 4-time NBA MVP. He wasn’t an offense liability either, except for this one turnover he had where he tried to go behind the back and he dribbled off of the back of his foot. That said — and this is speaking for the entire group — limiting LeBron to 38 points on 26 shots (those numbers actually decreased LeBron’s shooting percentages on the year) is not too bad. 6/10

Kyle Korver: Korver was 5-for-8 from behind the line, including a 30-footer late in the fourth quarter that had the Hawks up seven. He also missed the potential game-winning shot in overtime, which was actually a pretty clever lob play that Kyle could quite get a hold of. Overall, Korver’s spacing was extremely important for the Hawks and that was shown when the Heat had LeBron checking Korver a couple of time late in the game. 8/10 Continue Reading…

When HawksHoop’s Cole Patty wrote about Elton Brand before the start of the season, he was mainly going through how Elton would work within the Hawks’ offense. Why was this? It was already assumed that Elton would make an impact defensively, we just need to know if he could work on offense.

However, now we need to write about Elton’s defensive impact, because it is having an even bigger effect on the Hawks than previously anticipated.

This reason for this revelation is Elton’s recent increase in minutes. In the month of December, Elton is playing 14 minutes per game, which is up from the nine minutes per game he played in November. While that may not seem like a large increase on its face, consider this: the Hawks are 10-3 when Elton Brand plays more than 10 minutes. Those three losses? At Dallas, at San Antonio, and home against Oklahoma City, which are not exactly matchups to be ashamed of a losing result.

“They make sure we stay ready,” Elton said, talking about his playing time. “Guys may not play minutes, but when they come up, you’re ready.”

Is it possible that even more and more minutes need to be coming up for Elton Brand?

According to 82games.com, the Hawks’ defense gets eight points better per 100 possessions (and one point better on offense) when Brand is on the floor. Basketball-Reference has E.B. with the lowest DRtg of all Hawks at 98 points per 100 possessions. Continue Reading…

RECAP: Hawks 118, Jazz 85

Bo Churney —  December 21, 2013

FINAL

   UTA(7-22) 85 – 118 (15-12)ATL

Key Performers:
L. Williams (ATL): 25 pts, 2 reb, 2 ast, 4 stl
E. Kanter (UTA): 13 pts, 13 reb, 2 blk
[FULL BOX SCORE]

The Hawks are now three games over .500… I REPEAT, THE HAWKS ARE NOW THREE GAMES OVER .500! WOOO, THREE-SEED, HERE WE COME!!!

*looks at standings* Oh, we’re only four games ahead of the ninth place team in the East… still, possible three-seed!

ANYWAYS, the Hawks won tonight and they did it with a very consistent effort on both ends of the floor. Al Horford had 23 points in 23 minutes, which included a balanced set of inside buckets and mid-range jumpers. Paul Millsap, in his first game against his former team, had a quiet double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Because of the blowout, every active Hawks player got into the game and scored at least one bucket. Continue Reading…