Archives For March 2015

In the ever Popovichian-move, Coach Budenholzer decided to rest three starters against the Los Angeles Lakers. Little did he know is that he would soon be without a fourth.

The Atlanta Hawks defeated the Lakers 91-86 on Sunday night despite Jeff Teague, DeMarre Carroll, and Paul Millsap all sitting for rest purposes. The Hawks also played most of the game without Kyle Korver, who suffered a broken nose in the second quarter after hitting an Ed Davis screen. Korver, who was likely scheduled to be rested for Monday night’s game against the Kings, has officially been ruled out for that game.

Back to this game: it was all about Dennis Schröder. Schröder recorded a career-high 24 points and 10 assists in leading the shorthanded Hawks to the victory. This was Schröder’s third double-double for the season, all three of which have come on the road in games where Dennis got the start over an injured or rested Teague.

Even with the lack of active players, the Hawks still controlled this game for the first three quarters. The Lakers, who have dealt with injury issues the whole season, do not have a lot of talent that they can currently put out on the floor and the result Schröder and Al Horford dominating in spots where they were supposed to dominate. Continue Reading…

Well they can’t all be easy. The Hawks needed a late game comeback, some clutch shooting, and Al Horford to pull out tonight’s very physical victory, but they prevailed defeating the Suns 96-87.

The reason the Hawks struggled really felt like the same old story just told in a different setting with a different opponent. The team has been coasting for much of the last month and it’s quite obvious on night’s like tonight where it just doesn’t feel like the team is all the way there. The offense would randomly sputter for long stretches of time throughout the night, and far too often were the Suns allowed to get out on the break and run. Atlanta did a good job of getting back in transition, but the Suns managed to use the chaos to get off a quick set and score some easy buckets. The Hawks still played great when they had to, but it felt very inconsistent and unlike what their expectations are at right now.

Of course, this might have had to do with the physicality of the game and less to do with the Hawks themselves. The refs were letting both sides play for most of the night and Phoenix took advantage of it first. They played physical with Atlanta and used that physicality to force them out of their comfort zone, and break up a lot of their sets. It was a sloppy game, especially in the second half, that involved a lot of players having to create their own offense. This is an enviorment that a player like Eric Bledsoe can thrive in as he scored 21 points and was generally causing havoc for the Hawks defense all night.

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Hawks Destroyed in Denver

Bo Churney —  March 11, 2015

Well that was not exactly the way the team wanted to start off the road trip.

The Atlanta Hawks went into Denver on Wednesday night and were absolutely demolished by the Nuggets, losing by a score of 115-102. The Hawks were saved from an embarrassing score by the team’s garbage unit, who went on a 24-1 run in the fourth quarter to make the game a little interesting by cutting Denver’s huge lead to just single-digits with about a minute to go.

However, that one run was not indicative of what really happened in this contest. The game was similar to the Hawks win against Sacramento on Monday night, only in reverse and seemingly worse. The Hawks had problems making shots and executing on offense throughout most of the game while Denver was not missing from the field, regardless of the difficulty of the shot attempt.

The first quarter appeared to be a fluke, but it proved to be a sign of things to come. The Hawks committed silly turnovers like stepping out of bounds twice and missing a few open 3s. Atlanta was getting some decent looks inside the perimeter, however, shooting 9-for-14 on 2s during the quarter. This combined with Denver’s 60% shooting from the field seemed to show that the Hawks could rebound later in the game. Continue Reading…

The Hawks opened the game with two straight DeMarre Carroll threes and didn’t stop shooting until the final buzzer, running up a season-high 130 points against the Sacramento Kings Monday night at Philips Arena. Each of the five starters shot at least 50% as the Hawks rang up 42 assists, tied for the fourth-highest total in Atlanta’s history. Atlanta hit 20 3s, a franchise-record for a single game, and notched their 50th win of the season, marking the first time since the team moved to Atlanta that the Hawks were the first team in the league to reach 50 wins.

The Hawks came out firing in the first quarter, assisting on 12 of their 13 field goals and shooting 57% in the quarter, including five 3s from Carroll and Kyle Korver. Korver had been struggling since the All-Star Break, shooting just 31% from 3 and 32% overall since the extended time off. Korver finished 6-for-8 from 3 as the Kings lost him numerous times in transition and in the half court offense. Korver has recently said that his shooting troubles date back to before the break, so this big game should do wonders for any issues through which he’s been working.

Atlanta scored 76 points in the first half, their highest total in a half all season, racking up 25 assists along the way. The Hawks shot 62.5% from the field in the first half, including 12-for-19 on 3s, as the ball continued to find open shooters while the Kings scrambled on defensive rotations. Continue Reading…

Hawks Tripped Up by Sixers

Bo Churney —  March 8, 2015

The Hawks are definitely in for the long haul. And with Mike Budenholzer being a disciple of the Spurs organization, resting players on the second game of a back-to-back is not surprising.

Losing to the Philadelphia 76ers after having a 16-point lead, however, is not a great showing.

The Sixers rallied against the shorthanded Hawks in the second half, limiting Atlanta to just 31 points of offense over the final 24 minutes. The Hawks — sitting Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, and Paul Millsap — had absolutely nothing to give in the second half on offense, shooting just 11-for-40 (27.5%) from the field and only getting to the foul line six times.

The Hawks’ two remaining starters, Al Horford and Jeff Teague, were the big culprits in the collapse. Horford missed his final seven shots from the field, a few of the them badly hitting off the front of the rim and another that completely missed the rim altogether. Meanwhile, Teague was having problems with Philly’s quick and athletic defense, yielding four turnovers in the 17 minutes he played in the second half.

Horford was not the only one to have problems hitting the rim. John Jenkins, who started for Korver, opened with second half by missing the rim on two 3-point attempts. Mike Scott had similar “success” in the second half, as he also fell victim to an airball on a wide-open attempt. Continue Reading…

This Week In The Southeast, the Atlanta Hawks have clinched their way to the playoffs and that means they’re ready to coast the rest of the regular season, the Wizards have finally finished their regression to the mean, and the Heat and Hornets race for the playoffs is starting to heat up. The Magic? Well…they’re a team that plays basketball.

Atlanta Hawks, 49-13, 1st in the East, 2-1 this week ATL

Two big things for the Hawks happened this week. To start things off they clinched the playoffs already and it’s March. They also unveiled a statue of Atlanta Hawks legend, Dominique Wilkins, and had one of the greatest throwback nights in recent memory. They took on the Cleveland Cavaliers that night and managed to look pretty good against a team many people believe should have the advantage over Atlanta come playoff time. Of course, Atlanta couldn’t finish the week undefeated when they decided to rest starters to the Philadelphia 76ers and lose. Hey, the 95-96 Bulls lost to the expansion Raptors and who’s not to say that this Hawks team are the 95-96 Bulls?

Washington Wizards, 35-28, 5th in the East, 1-2 this week WAS

It’s hard to believe the Wizards were at one point the number one team in the Eastern conference, and a favorite to win the the Southeast Division. Their slide appears to have found a happy medium and Washington has regressed to a mean that fits around what they were last season. Just good enough to maybe make some noise in the playoffs, but just mediocre enough to not give you any real hope. This week the Wizards beat the playoff hopeful Miami Heat, and then they lost to the Bucks and Bulls.

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The Atlanta Hawks announced today that they have signed sharpshooter Jarell Eddie of the NBA Development League’s Austin Spurs to a 10-day contract.

Sure, why not?

The Hawks had an open roster spot after sending Adreian Payne to Minnesota last month and head coach Mike Budenholzer decided to use it on a standout from his old regime’s farm system. (If you didn’t like people comparing the Hawks to San Antonio, then this news probably isn’t great news for your cause)

Undrafted in 2014, Eddie was a member of the Hawks’ training camp squad and appeared in three pre-season games with before being cut and ending up in Austin. Champion of the D-League’s Three-Point Shootout this year, Eddie averaged 11.9 points per game and shot 42.2% from the outside the arc to go along with 3.3 boards and one assist in 25.6 minutes of play.

When looking at motives for the move, you can’t blame Budenholzer for taking a flyer on a guy in the Spurs’ D-League system that has improved his outside shot since his senior year of college. Only time will tell if the player hailed as a Danny Green-like project by Spurs.com turns out to be a good pickup.

There’s a nice little nugget from Eddie in that same Spurs article where he states, “Shooting’s a premium at the NBA level. With the release that I have and the size that I have, I’ve always had the mindset the I’m an NBA player. Now, it’s clear that if you keep working in the D-League, someone will spot you.”

While other teams might’ve spotted that sweet stroke, the Hawks are the first to capitalize.

The 23-year-old Jarell Eddie will wear #3 for the Hawks, so we’ll see if the 6-7′ Virginia Tech alum can provide some of the same offensive punch that pre-ACL LouWill had for the Hawks two years ago.

In the next 10 days, the Hawks take on the Cavaliers, Sixers, Kings, Nuggets, and Suns. You’d think that the NBA-leading Hawks can find a few minutes for Eddie – and the rest of the lesser-used bench – in a few of those contests.

 

Josh Smith was an Atlanta guy.

Smith was born and raised in Atlanta. He played nine seasons within the city limits and was very active within the community during that time. On Smith’s arms, he possesses two very visible tattoos: one of the state of Georgia and another of the Hawks’ Pac-man logo.

However, on Tuesday night, Smith finally turned on the city he loved for so long.

The night started rather uneventfully for Smith. He entered the game in the first quarter to a smattering of boos mixed with some light cheers, but the reception was hardly made an impact on the decibel meter. The Atlanta faithful — who had already seen Smith in an opponent’s uniform before — seemed apathetic to Smith… for a while.

With James Harden and Dwight Howard sitting out for the Rockets, there were plenty of shots to go around for Houston’s role players. As a man used to running an offense and being a volume shooter, Smith felt perfectly in place, taking control of the ball often in his time on the court. The more Smith shot, the more involved became the crowd, as the Atlanta fans had seen Smith hijack an offense before and were hopeful that Smith could wreck the lead the Rockets possessed.

In Smith’s final years with the Hawks, the crowd had grown restless waiting for his development. As a result, Hawks’ fans often started crying out when Smith took jumpers that he continually missed on, either by loudly groaning or even by shouting “nooooo!” While it was clear Smith’s emotions were being toyed with, he often remained calm and showed little expression about the outbursts in his time with the Hawks.

But that did not happen on Tuesday night, as finally Smith took physical exception to the crowd mocking his play on the court. After sinking a 3-pointer with about two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Smith raised one finger to his mouth and sent his other hand in the air, intimating his wish for the crowd to finally hush. Continue Reading…

The Rockets were without James Harden and Dwight Howard, but were still deadly enough to nearly take out the Hawks with a barrage of shots in the first three quarters. However, the Hawks rallied behind a hot crowd in the fourth quarter and completed a 18-point comeback to win 104-96.

“Seems like we were constantly trying to dig ourselves out of a hole,” said head coach Mike Budenholzer on his players. “The last one I think we went down 15 with nine or ten minutes left in the quarter and they found a way to make one more run to get over the hump.”

The Hawks came out of the gates extremely sluggish, as Jeff Teague’s lack of attention on the opening tip led to an easy layup for the Rockets instead of the Hawks taking possession. This sloppy play persisted throughout the first quarter, punctuated by nine Atlanta turnovers, which resulted in a 31-22 Rockets lead after 12 minutes of play.

“I didn’t like our focus coming out,” said Budenholzer, who was assessed a technical foul in the first quarter.

The Rockets continued to pile on in the second quarter, with Jason Terry and Terrence Jones combining for 21 points in the period. The Hawks interior defense on Jones was non-existent and Terry kept punishing the out-of-position Hawks by nailing open 3-pointers.

“They were doing a lot of great things offensively,” said Al Horford, who scored 18 points in the game. “It kept us guessing a lot of the time. We prepared for playing against, you know, like James Harden and everything and it kind of changes how you’re going to approach the game.” Continue Reading…

I’m gonna say it right off the bat: he doesn’t have the chance yet, but before his career is over, Mike Muscala will be known as a valuable bench weapon.

Casual NBA fans – heck, even casual Hawks fans – might not be familiar with Muscala, a big man who flirts with the chance to take the floor every now and again. The 2013 2nd round draft pick has gotten minor minutes this season; Muscala hasn’t shown anything to prove that he’s a dominant force. However, Moose is growing into player that fits this Hawks system perfectly – a big with range, athleticism, and sound fundamentals.

Coming out of Roseville, Minnesota, Mike Muscala was the 128th ranked power forward in the Class of 2009 high school recruiting class. While his scouting report praised his athleticism and solid post play, he chose to attend Bucknell University, among interest from other smaller schools such as North Dakota, Santa Clara, and South Dakota. Looking at the rest of the big men in that class, the only ones that stand out as productive NBA players are DeMarcus Cousins, Derrick Favors, and John Henson.

So what does that say about Muscala? Again and again he’s looked past the doubters and continued to improve. That started at a small D1 school in college. That continued as a 2nd round draft pick. When I spoke with Mike just before the start of the new calendar year, he told me how the chip on his shoulder doesn’t come from any of those past experiences, but instead the drive to be a contributor for his team, saying, “Now that I’m in the NBA, I’m just trying to prove that within the team, within the year, within the Hawks, I can help. At the end of the day I just want to win.” Continue Reading…