Archives For March 2015

Not only did Kyle Korver have a non-spectacular first half, but the Milwaukee Bucks were sticking around and giving the Atlanta Hawks a close game to worry about on their home floor. That all changed when Korver went on an 11-0 run in the third quarter.

The run by Korver took little more than a minute and consistent of four long jumpers, each drawing a bigger ovation from the crowd than the previous. When the dust settled, a five-point game was turned into a 16-point breakaway, which gave the Hawks enough of a buffer to hold off the Bucks and get the 101-88 win.

Those 11 points were the only ones that Korver scored all night, as the sharpshooter was 0-for-6 from the field outside of that 65-second period in the middle of the third. Korver also had five assists in his 34 minutes of play.

Outside of Korver’s run, DeMarre Carroll was the most important Hawks player on the court on Monday night. Carroll scored over 20 points for his second consecutive game, notching an impressive stat-line of 23 points, eight rebounds, and a career-high five assists. Carroll’s offensive game showed his underrated diversity of skill, as he hit two 3-pointers, scored off a variety of cuts, and he even hit a few floaters in the lane. Obviously Carroll is not a guy who is going to carry you offensively, but he is often the guy that scores a difficult bucket when the Hawks need it. Continue Reading…

The Hawks clinched the 1-seed in the East on Friday night after beating the Miami Heat and after the Cleveland Cavaliers lost to the Brooklyn Nets. On Saturday night with a back-to-back, Coach Budenholzer decided to rest a guy or two.

…Or three. Or four… or the entire starting lineup.

Dennis Schröder, John Jenkins, Kent Bazemore, Elton Brand, and Mike Muscala comprised the Hawks’ starting lineup on Saturday night as they fell to the Charlotte Hornets by a score of 115-100. Gerald Henderson, Kemba Walker, Marvin Williams, and Mo Williams all scored at least 17 points to lead the Hornets to their 31th victory on the season.

The mindset among some Hawks fans while this game was taking place was questioning why the Hawks would essentially just throwaway a game like this by resting all five starters at once, even with the 1-seed clinched. However, there are plenty of reasons why this made sense, with the most subtle reason being that the Hornets are one of the teams behind the Brooklyn Nets in the standings. Since the Hawks have the right to swap picks with the Nets, it definitely did not hurt that the Hawks let this game go.

It also did not hurt to give guys like Mike Muscala some playing time. Muscala, who is held in high regard by members of the front office, capitalized on his extended playing time by notching his first career double double: 18 points and 10 rebounds with four assists and two blocks in 34 minutes. He also hit two 3-pointers to up his season total to 4-for-11 from behind the arc. Continue Reading…

The Hawks allowed the Magic to score 31 points in the opening quarter, showing signs that Atlanta’s prolonged defensive slump may still be alive and result in the team’s first four-game losing streak of the year.

Thankfully for the Atlanta fans, the Hawks’ defense finally showed up in the second half, as Orlando was held to just 31 points over the final 24 minutes of the game as Atlanta cruised to a 95-83 victory.

Paul Millsap finished with 25 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, and four blocks in leading the Hawks to the win. Millsap’s play was extremely vital in the first half when the Hawks were struggling; the power forward had 18 points and eight rebounds in that half alone, which helped keep the Hawks within five points when the buzzer sounded to end the second quarter.

In the third quarter, the Hawks’ defense really started getting the Magic’s offense out of rhythm by forcing bad shots. Orlando became so frustrated that they started taking almost any shot they could get, which resulted in 3-point attempts early in the shot clock by shooters who probably are not suited to take those attempts. However, thanks to some good defense of their own, the Magic maintained a three-point lead heading into the final period.

After Dennis Schroder hit a 3 to open the period and tie the game, Orlando went on a 7-0 run and things were looking bleak for the Hawks. However, the offense that the Hawks have been winning games off of all season finally showed up in the fourth quarter, as Atlanta got the ball moving, created open shots, and connected on those opportunities to open up a 24-3 run that finally buried the Magic. Continue Reading…

The Return of Thabo

Caleb Cottrell —  March 25, 2015

Thabo Sefolosha hasn’t played since January 30 — a win against the Portland Trailblazers. It also happened to be the second to last game of the 19-game winning streak. Now, Sefolosha returns tonight versus the Orlando Magic. Although Sefolosha has only averaged a tad under 20 minutes a game, he has a large impact when playing.

For the season, Sefolosha is playing 72 percent of his minutes at the Small Forward position, with Korver at Shooting Guard. While Sefolosha is guarding Small Forward’s, he is only allowing an insane 5.7 PER, according to 82games.com. For comparison, Kawhi Leonard is allowing a 12.6 PER, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist gives up 10.2. Those are two of the best perimeter defenders in the league, and Sefolosha blows them out of the water. Now, Thabo has only played a total of 853 minutes, so he’s only played about 614 minutes at the position, which isn’t a very large sample size. Last year with the Oklahoma City Thunder, opponents PER against Sefolosha was 10.7, so the defensive impact is definitely there. Sefolosha also gets to boast a 35.3 Effective Field Goal Percentage that his opponents shoot when he guards them.

With the added defensive ability that comes with Thabo Sefolosha, it allows the Hawks more leeway with their lineups. If Sefolosha starts alongside Korver, it allows Demarre Carroll to come off the bench, like the Thunder did with James Harden (no, I’m not comparing Carroll to Harden). Schroder, Carroll, and Scott of the bench in the playoffs can be very good, even if Carroll ends up playing more minutes than Sefolosha.

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This week in the southeast, Atlanta is resting, Washington’s coach is walking off, Miami has life, Charlotte is stinking, and the Magic are showing some promise.

Atlanta Hawks, 55-18, 1st in the East, 2-2 this week ATL

Atlanta’s week got off to a really bad start when they got smacked around by the San Antonio Spurs. It was the kind of game that’s starting to cause some concern among fans, and experts, about the Hawks post all-star break struggles. Is it just coasting or is there more to it? The following games didn’t say much as Atlanta beat both Florida teams before resting all their starters in a loss against Charlotte.

Washington Wizards, 41-33, 5th in the East, 1-4 this week WAS

The Wizards went out west this week and everything went to the pits for them. They went on a three game losing streak, pulled out a win against a Hornets team that can’t stay out of their way, and then immediately lost to the Houston Rockets. The “highlight” of their week is when Randy Wittman walked off the court before the game was over when his team was attempting to win the game on a halfcourt heave. Not a great look coach.
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Hawks Collapse in OKC

Bo Churney —  March 21, 2015

It was the end of the west coast road trip. The Hawks were down three key rotation players with the absences of Mike Scott, Kyle Korver, and Thabo Sefolosha. And most importantly, individual regular season games are not that vital when you have clinched the division and are likely to take the number one seed in the Eastern Conference.

But boy was this game a stinker.

Russell Westbrook and Anthony Morrow ran wild on the Hawks in the fourth quarter, scoring 27 of Oklahoma City’s 33 fourth quarter points on their way to completing a comeback over Atlanta to win 123-115. Westbrook coordinated a 23-6 run in the quarter that was a result of great execution by Oklahoma City and non-existent execution by the Hawks.

The first half started off extremely hot, as both teams were shooting a high percentage from the field. Even Pero Antic woke up from his shooting slump, tying a career-high 18 points before the half had even ended. Antic finished the game with 22 points, and overall, the Hawks shot 58% in the half and maintained a 68-61 lead into the intermission.

The Hawks started to show some cracks in the third quarter, but were able to keep their lead thanks to some great play from Paul Millsap. Millsap was 4-for-5 from the field in the quarter with nine points, which were enough to keep the Hawks afloat. Millsap finished the game with a line of 19 points, three rebounds, three assists, four steals, and two blocks.

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It was announced last weekend that Mike Scott will miss 4-6 weeks (the remainder of the regular season, possibly into the beginning of the NBA playoffs) with a broken toe on his left foot. Thabo Sefolosha is close to returning from a calf strain that he suffered January 30th against Portland. The Hawks don’t plan on bringing back 10-day contract signee Jarell Eddie and instead have signed Austin Daye to the same short-term deal.

Coach Mike Budenholzer has been resting starters on a game-by-game basis, preparing for a run deep into the playoffs. They seem content on using the players they have and not any major outside help, as shown with the silent trade deadline last month.

But with all of this talk of injuries and sitting starters, don’t you still feel good about these Hawks?

Compared to last season, the Hawks are a completely different squad – except for the fact that they really aren’t. Sure, they signed Kent Bazemore and the aforementioned Sefolosha. Yeah, they’ve had time to gel and find more of a rhythm in Coach Bud’s offense. Sure, they are winning games at a much higher clip this season. But, the biggest change this season – something that seemed so great earlier on in the year – was the health.

Here they are, sitting at the top of the Eastern Conference on the ides of March and they have had only had one major injury to this Mike Scott announcement. Look at the rest of the conference – the rest of the league, for that matter – and you see key players going down.

The Cleveland Cavaliers were without LeBron for eight games at the turn of the new calendar year. Kevin Love has been in and out of the lineup with back issues. The Raptors missed DeMar DeRozan during the month of December. The Pistons lost Brandon Jennings for the season to an Achilles injury. Blake Griffin was out of the Clippers’ lineup for a little over a month. Wesley Matthews is no longer a factor for the Trail Blazers due to a season-ending torn Achilles. Paul George hasn’t played for the Pacers this season due to the gruesome leg injury suffered while playing for Team USA last summer.

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Even with Kyle Korver out to injury and Al Horford out for rest purposes, the Atlanta Hawks hung on to Monday night’s game against the Sacramento Kings to get the 110-103 victory.

The first quarter of this game helped signify that it would be a close affair all night. The Kings were shooting well and playing with pace on offense. DeMarcus Cousins was a load early on both offensively and defensively; at one point, he blocked shots on consecutive Atlanta possessions and simply made the Hawks look silly in their offensive attempts. Thankfully for the Hawks, DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap were able to make shots and take advantage of some mismatches, leading to the two scoring eight points a piece in the quarter.

The Hawks started to pull away in the second quarter, largely thanks to the play of one Jeffrey DeMarco Teague. Teague’s agressive play, combined with the defensive intensity of Kent Bazemore, allowed the Hawks get an advantage, resulting in a 53-47 lead at halftime.

The third quarter was a repeat of the first… almost literally. The Kings won the first quarter 29-28 and they won the third quarter by the same score. Jason Thompson and Andre Miller started making their impacts in this period, as their play sparked a 16-7 mini-run by Sacramento that allowed the Kings to stay in the game. This run was despite DeMarcus Cousins nearly having a meltdown, as the former Kentucky product recorded four turnovers, four fouls, and one technical foul in the period. Continue Reading…

This Week In The Southeast, the Atlanta Hawks are resting and coasting their way to the finish line, the Washington Wizards go streaking, there’s a switch in division standings for the first time in quite awhile, and the Orlando Magic are doing Orlando things. No, not going to Disney World, but losing games…and okay well maybe going to Disney World too, but what does that have to do with basketball?

Atlanta Hawks, 52-14, 1st in the East, 3-1 this week ATL

It’s weird to be talking about how the Hawks haven’t been playing well, but…they haven’t been playing well. The Los Angles Lakers game doesn’t count cause they were resting players, but before that Atlanta received a throttling to a revived Denver Nuggets, and needed a 4th quarter come back to escape Phoenix with a victory. It makes sense that after clinching the playoffs, and at this point of the season, the Hawks would coast a little to the end, but it’s a little worrisome to see them play so horribly at times. If they ever go through a stretch like that in the playoffs it could cost them a game. However, if any of these problems they’re having are real, they can figure them out now with a month before the games really begin to matter again.

Washington Wizards, 38-28, 5th in the East, 3-0 this week WAS

The Wizards are going streaking! They’ve won three in a row with some quality wins against a Hornets team they had lost five times to going in to last season, and an even bigger win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Washington has struggled beating better teams for much of the season, but if they can get back to what made them great early in the year then they could become a threat in the East once more.

Continue Reading…

The injury that Mike Scott suffered against Denver a few days ago was more than just a bother. The team announced that Scott has broken his left big toe and will likely miss 4-6 weeks as he recovers.

This is a tough blow for both the team and Scott, who was shooting a career-high 35.3% from the great beyond this season. The emoji-covered forward has provided serious spark off the bench and his quick-trigger shot will be missed during the remainder of the regular season.

My favorite part about watching Scott was his ability to catch fire at any given time. Definitely one of the most confident shooters out there, Scott has not been afraid to throw it up this season. From his hot 3rd quarter in Indianapolis during the playoffs last season to his highlight dunks he’s tallied up this year, Mike Scott has been a fun guy to watch.

The team also announced that they will be signing NBA vet Austin Daye to a 10-day contract. Daye, most recently a member of the Erie BayHawks in the D-League, appeared in 26 games for the San Antonio Spurs earlier this season.

I remember it like it was yesterday… Austin Daye scored 20 points on 9-of-11 against the Hawks back in 2013 when he was a bench player for the Detroit Pistons. His contributions late in the game helped the Pistons win by one point. He infuriated me with his hot shooting that night. I can only hope that now, years after ruining my January 3rd evening, he provides some of the same microwave-like spark normally held by Mike Scott off the bench.

A career 35% three-point shooter, Daye will wear number three for the Hawks.

In other news, the Hawks will not be bringing back Jarell Eddie after his 10-day contract expired this week. They signed him to a deal and he didn’t get any playing time. Huh? I’m a little surprised that Budenholzer didn’t test him out at least once, especially on nights where some starters were rested. The shooting-specialist Eddie will have to leave Atlanta without a bucket on his record.