Archives For November 2015

Spurs Rout Hawks 108-88

Eric Yeboah —  November 29, 2015

In their fourth game in five nights the Hawks fell to the San Antonio Spurs 108-88 with the largest lead being 30. This win marks the 18th straight home victory against Atlanta. The Hawks struggled from the field shooting just 42% from the field and a season low 23% from three in the game. After the first quarter the Hawks led 25-23 and it seemed that they would fight through the sores and heavy legs.

However, the second quarter began and ended horribly as scored just 12 points shooting just 27% from the field and 12.5% from three, meanwhile Leonard recorded 11 of his game high 22 points. During this quarter the team posted a -19 plus/minus rating while the spurs forced them into 6 turnovers leading to a 17 point lead.

Mike Scott lead Atlanta with 14 points (his 13th time scoring in double figures), five for nine from the field and +6 plus/minus rating during his time on the court. The spurs dominated the frontcourt showdown between the two as Millsap and Horford only accumulated just 16 points and 12 rebounds, meanwhile Duncan and Aldridge posted 23 points and 24 rebounds. The same story goes for Atlanta’s backcourt with just 12 points from Teague and Korver as the length of San Antonio threw their rhythm completely off forcing several contested or adjusted shot attempts.

Hawks return home Monday, but Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder wont be the easiest bounce back game.

Tip off at 8:00pm

The Atlanta Hawks (10-7) traveled to Minnesota (7-8) looking to build upon a strong win against Boston and exorcise demons from their earlier loss to the Timberwolves. They failed to do so in a 99-95 loss in Target Arena.

The T’Wolves bench accounted for 58 of their 99 point total. Minnesota was led by 13 points on just five shots from Damjan Rudez and Zach LaVine’s 18 points, six assist and five rebound night.

Reigning rookie of the year Andrew Wiggins was kept in check most of the night with an inefficient line of 15 points on 17 shots, but muscled up a bucket in the lane after taking body contact from Paul Millsap to put the Timberwolves up 98-94 with 1:24 left to go. The Hawks only netted one point in the final two minutes amid turnovers and bad shots, sealing the game for the home team.

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When it comes to confidence, there’s an age-old saying in sports: “never get to high, never get too low.” That’s something Mike Scott talked to me about last year when he was going through a rough shooting spell in December. Just keep on pushing. With the Atlanta Hawks, there certainly haven’t been any dramatically high points this season. No big low points either (unless you want to say the outlier that was the Minnesota game). Coach Mike Budenholzer preaches patience on offense. Finding the best look possible. Giving up a good shot for a great shot. That’s the Atlanta Hawks basketball we’ve become accustomed to over the past few seasons.

So what’s with the recent struggle? Sure, every team faces rough patches in their season – especially early on, right Houston? – which lead fans and pundits alike to ask questions. Skeptics have taken a look at this Hawks team and asked:

“Do they have what it takes to replace DeMarre Carroll?”

“Can the Hawks get over the hump that was in their way last season?”

“Are they regressing to the mean?”

To be completely honest, the offense has been largely unimpressive at times. The Hawks have displayed a lack of ball movement, spacing, and just a bumbling collection of careless mistakes and typical early-season errors. Going into that would take a chapter-book that will have to be illustrated another time.

But wait. It’s not like the offense is bad. We’re in the top 10 in the league with an offensive rating of 103.2 and putting up 101.4 points per game. I’m sure a bunch of teams would be thrilled to produce like the Hawks offensively.

I get the feeling watching these guys that they’re close to reaching their peak. Close, but not there yet. The ideals are there, the Bud system is there, but there are moving parts coming in this season that have forced adjustments. We’re treated to vintage Hawks basketball for a few minutes each game, such as the electric 2nd half against Minnesota (which is something the Hawks are capable of producing against any opponent), but there’s a sloppiness and lack of execution showing through the cracks.

We came into this season thinking that the Hawks would seamlessly adjust to the new roster additions and returning injured players. But some parts of the personnel adjustments this year have been like putting a square peg in a round hole. Other parts have worked better than I thought. And some have the potential to grow into prospering offensive weapons. Some of these examples include Kent Bazemore’s rise as a starter, my affinity for Lamar Patterson as a playmaker and basketball player, and, especially, the adjustments the offense with the addition of Tiago Splitter.

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The Atlanta Hawks returned to the place their breakout 2014-15 season ended and suffered a similar fate in a 109-97 loss. In front of a sellout Quicken Loans Arena crowd, Kevin Love led the Cavs with 25 points and 11 rebounds and LeBron James added 19 points and 11 rebounds. The Hawks only had one lead and were never really in the game past the opening minutes.

The big story was the ejection of coach Mike Budenholzer after just one technical foul. Coach Bud was giving Ben Taylor some words after Justin Holiday was hit in the face on a drive without a whistle, and he appeared to make contact with the fifth year referee, which would warrant the immediate ejection. After the game, coach Bud stated that he did not immediately realize he bumped Taylor and that the contact was unintentional.

Kenny Atkinson took over the coaching duties from there but there would be no emotional rally from Atlanta.

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Paul Millsap sank a one-handed running shot with 15.7 seconds remaining to put the Hawks up 101-97 and Atlanta (9-5) was able to hang onto the lead against the Sacramento Kings (4-8) in what felt like a must-win game for both teams. Millsap’s 23 points (9-for-19), 16 rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks were just enough to stop the bleeding for his shorthanded team, which had lost three straight, in a 103-97 win at Philips Arena.

“Paul really stood out,” said Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer during the postgame media availability. “I think our focus, our attention to detail was closer to where we need it to be. It’s good to get a win. I think we obviously needed that.”

Sacramento has been facing issues of their own, evident during several moments of on-court bickering in the third quarter between DeMarcus Cousins (24 points, 12 rebounds), Rudy Gay (14 points, six rebounds) and Rajon Rondo, who recorded a triple-double with 12 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. The Kings still managed to outscore Atlanta 27-19 during that period and entered the final quarter down only 81-79. Continue Reading…

While the start of Atlanta’s season has been fairly strong, stronger than last year’s 7-6 prelude to the franchise’s first 60 win season, there are a few notable areas for improvement. The most glaring of that group has to be rebounding, which helped foil the Hawks’ attempts to reach the NBA Finals just a few months ago and is currently foiling their endeavors to retain the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

Most attribute the Hawks’ struggles in this area to a lack of size on the roster but it has become clear that most of the blame falls squarely on the overall scheme of the team. It matters less the stature of the players and more how hard the players crash the glass.

The below is a table of the Hawks’ rebounding performance in every year since coach Mike Budenholzer has taken the helm. I’ve listed the league finish in each rebounding percentage estimate via Basketball Reference.

OReb% DReb%
2013-14 28th 17th
2014-15 30th 22nd
2015-16 28th 29th

In fairness, in every year of Larry Drew’s tenure from 2010 to 2013 his teams finished in the bottom five of offensive rebounding percentage, but those teams were above average on the other end of the floor in each of those three seasons. The trend under the current regime is discouraging, nonetheless. Continue Reading…

After three and a half tightly contested quarters in which neither the Hawks nor the short-handed Pelicans were able to pull away, Mike Muscala assisted Paul Millsap on a cutting layup that began a 6-0 run for Atlanta. Alvin Gentry called a timeout for New Orleans after Jeff Teague’s driving floater with 5:10 left to play. But the 93-85 cushion was enough for the Hawks to withstand Eric Gordon’s heroics as they improved to 8-2 with the 106-98 victory at Philips Arena.

Atlanta got off to a slow start, something that has been an unsettling trend in this young season. The injury-plagued Pelicans (who have already been without Norris Cole, Tyreke Evans, and Quincy Pondexter all season) entered tonight’s game without Anthony Davis after he bruised his hip the night before against Dallas. They were still able to outplay the Hawks for most of the half. There were eight lead changes and seven ties in the first quarter and New Orleans went up 26-24 on a goal-tending call against Thabo Sefolosha (Ish Smith was credited with the basket). Atlanta wouldn’t take the lead again until midway through the third quarter.

The Pelicans’ 56-47 advantage at halftime was largely due to outstanding shooting from behind the arc. Three of their starters were 2-for-3 (Luke Babbitt, Gordon and Smith; Ryan Anderson made two of his four attempts) and the team as a whole shot 61% (11-for-18). Al Horford kept the Hawks in the game with 20 first-half points and Millsap had 9 rebounds during that span. Coach Bud made a point of addressing his team’s inability to match the Pelicans’ early intensity during his postgame press conference:

A lot of credit [goes] to New Orleans coming in on a back-to-back without Anthony Davis and all the injuries they’re dealing with. They had us definitely on our heels. I think we’ve got to play a lot better coming out to start games and not put ourselves in that kind of hole.

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The Hawks erased a 34 point deficit to take a 107-106 lead over the Timberwolves with 3:33 to play on a Paul Millsap driving layup, but failed to score again in Monday night’s 117-107 loss at Philips Arena. Andrew Wiggins scored seven straight (on a career-high tying 33 point night) and Minnesota ended the game on an 11-0 run, dashing Atlanta’s hopes of pulling off the third-largest comeback in NBA history. The Hawks dropped to 7-2 and fell to second in the Eastern Conference behind the 6-1 Cavaliers, while Minnesota improved to 4-2.

The first half was about as ugly as it gets, with Tiago Splitter’s minus-3 a team best. Minnesota absolutely dismantled Atlanta’s defense, shooting 64% from the field (50% on 3-pointers) and doubling the Hawks’ 11 boards. The Timberwolves outscored Atlanta in the paint 36-20, 10-0 on second chance points and 21-2 on fast break points and the Hawks went to the locker room down 72-42.

Coach Mike Budenholzer let the starters begin the third quarter in hopes of chipping away at the 30 point deficit. Asked if he gave a big speech at halftime, Coach Bud said he simply made the decision to give the starting unit an opportunity to make a game of it in the third quarter.

“I told the guys lets give it five or eight minutes,” said Budenholzer. “Let’s see what happens. Different things happen in our league.” Continue Reading…

Kent Bazemore scored a career-high 25 points, pushing the Atlanta Hawks to their seventh straight win over the Washington Wizards 114-99 at Philips Arena. His catch-and-shoot three with 3:35 to play against Bradley Beal’s late defense put the Hawks up 103-94.

“Its good to see the ball to go in because maybe eight to 10 months ago that may not have been the case,” said a smiling Bazemore in the postgame locker room.

The confidence the team has in Bazemore and he has in himself is obvious as Kent is now shooting 50% from three, placing him at fifth in the league for 3-point percentage. Coach Mike Budenholzer credits both the team’s playmaking and Bazemore’s ability to attack the rim, which keeps defenses guessing.

“I think he’s getting a lot of good rhythm shots, he’s getting a lot of opportunities,” said Budenholzer during the postgame media availability. “Hopefully we’re creating a lot of pressure on the paint, creating a lot of pressure on the rim. And he can do that too. I think the great thing is, obviously he’s making shots but he can attack and break the defense down and finish also. Obviously he had a very good game.” Continue Reading…

Tiago Splitter dunked off an Al Horford assist as the third quarter expired for the 14th (and final) lead change and a 72-70 advantage for the Hawks over the visiting Brooklyn Nets. Atlanta seized control of what had been a tightly-contested game in the fourth quarter and the 101-87 victory was their 5th straight win.

The Hawks outscored the Nets 29-17 in the final quarter and Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer cited a strong defensive effort as a key to victory.

“It was good to see a fourth quarter where I think we closed better and managed to get some separation,” said Budenholzer.

Coach Bud singled out the efforts of Kent Bazemore and Justin Holiday in keying Atlanta’s defense.

“We were able to turn up the defense and get some stops in the fourth quarter. Kent tracking down blocked shots in transition and Justin with multiple efforts and multiple contests, that’s part of who we are and that’s what we’re going to have to continue to do.” Continue Reading…