Archives For March 2016

The Atlanta Hawks reeled off their fourth straight victory with a 116-98 home triumph over the Denver Nuggets. The victory secured (because it really matters, apparently) the season sweep of the Nuggets, who were minus Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried last night.

The Nuggets were led by D.J. Augustin’s 17 points off the bench, and Joffrey Lauvergne’s 16 points. Meanwhile for the Hawks, Paul Millsap notched his second consecutive double-double — 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Tim Hardaway Jr.’s first start

To the surprise of nearly everyone, Kent Bazemore was ruled out of last night’s game with a knee injury. This certainly came as a shock, since any sort of injury didn’t seem apparent during the Pistons game just the night before — nor were there any comments post game suggesting any sort of injury.

In Bazemore’s place, Tim Hardaway Jr. was given the starting nod and he slotted into the shooting guard role while Kyle Korver shifted to small forward. It’s the kind of opportunity that THJ has waited for all season long and he did not disappoint. He produced a game high 21 points (on 6-of-11 shooting and 2-of-4 from behind the arc), seven rebounds, and four assists in 29 minutes of action.

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The Atlanta Hawks triumphed over the Detroit Pistons — 118-114 — in what was an entertaining affair. With this latest victory, the Hawks (now winners in eight of their last 10 games) moved into the fourth in the Eastern Conference, ahead of the Boston Celtics who lost at home against the Thunder. The Hawks now sit just half a game back of the Miami Heat for the third seed.

“I don’t think we pay too much attention to the standings, but now that you say it, it’s a big win.” — Jeff Teague

A nervous ending

The Hawks held a nine point lead with a minute remaining in the fourth quarter, but allowed it decrease to just two points after some turnovers, missed free throws, and some poor plays allowed the Pistons to hang around. It was your typical Atlanta Hawks ‘Oh no, they’re going find a way to throw this one away’ scenario — but they hung on, icing the game at the free throw line.

Coach Bud admitted that everyone was at fault for this late slippage:

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The Atlanta Hawks produced one of their most impressive performances of the season as (behind a 37 point third quarter) they rolled to a 104-74 home victory against the Indiana Pacers. The Hawks were led by Paul Millsap’s 18 points, nine rebounds, four assists, three steals, and three blocks in just 29 minutes of play. Al Horford also chipped in with 18 points, while Kyle Korver shot 4-for-9 behind the arc as he contributed 14 points to the Hawks’ cause. The Pacers were led by Myles Turner’s 19 points.

The Hawks now improve to 38-29, a season high nine games above .500.

Atlanta’s monster third quarter

Heading into the third quarter, the Hawks held a 52-38 advantage over the Indiana Pacers and were looking pretty comfortable. But a 13-7 Pacers run meant that they were within eight points — 51-59 in favour of the Hawks. But that would be as close as Indy would ever come after that point. The Hawks produced a 20-0 run as they tore the Pacers apart, eventually outscoring the Pacers 37-18 in the quarter — from which point the game was over.

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The Hawks (38-29) might be peaking at just the right time, and there’s an obvious springboard for this late surge. Only 1.5 games separate the Hawks from a top three seed in the East, despite several hot Eastern Conference teams, and there’s a growing sense the team can get there by mid-April.

How is this possible? In a season that has seen a lot of regression from last year’s soaring highs, there has been one area that Atlanta has exceeded all expectations.

Maybe you’ve heard now, but the Atlanta Hawks defense has been good. Really really good. As of writing this, the Hawks are second in defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) at 98.6 per the NBA’s stats, behind only the historically great San Antonio Spurs defense. They have maintained this level of play even as their offense struggles to regain last season’s identity and injuries have forced mid-season transactions, hitting the reset button on some of the continuity the team had built up.

Coming off a fresh 104-75 beatdown of a Pacers team that had been on a three game winning streak, the Hawks have helped cement their identity as a meticulous defensive stonewall less than a month before the ultimate test.

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The Atlanta Hawks put themselves back in the winning column with a 95-83 victory against the shorthanded Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night. How shorthanded? Well, the Grizzlies were without:

Marc Gasol
Mike Conley
Zach Randolph
Vince Carter
Brandan Wright
Chris Andersen (not that he’s great, but he was someone playing significant minutes for the Grizzlies)

A few notable absentees, one might say.

On the night, and among the available players they did have, the Grizz were led by Lance Stephenson’s 18 points off the bench while the Hawks were led by Paul Millsap’s 21 points, seven rebounds, and five assists.

Home sweet home — an important victory

It feels good to be home. This was the Hawks’ first game in Atlanta since February 28th, a day when the Charlotte Hornets came to town.

When the Grizzlies went up by 12 early, it was beginning to look like the classic ‘first home game after a long road trip struggle’. But the Hawks rallied, and once they took control of affairs they never looked back, and the Grizzlies never seemed capable of mounting a comeback.

When the Hawks took on the injury depleted Miami Heat in mid February, they fell into the classic trap game situation and lost a game they should’ve won with relative ease.  This time, however, the Hawks were more intentional in respecting the injury depleted Grizzlies and took care of business:

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The Atlanta Hawks wrapped up their five game road trip on a disappointing note — a 96-104 loss to the Toronto Raptors at the ACC. The Hawks were led by Al Horford’s 20 point game, while the Raptors were led by DeMar DeRozan’s 30 points. The Hawks will now head back to Atlanta to take on the wounded Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night.

A good effort at the end of a long trip

Last night was the Hawks’ fifth and final game on the road — a trip that began on March 1st in Golden State.

Although the loss last night was disappointing, the game wraps up a positive road trip where the Hawks went 3-2. Heading into this road trip — considering the talent the Hawks were facing — the Hawks could’ve easily have gone 1-4 on this trip. Big victories against the Clippers and the Utah Jazz, however, mean that this trip is a success.

The Hawks seemed to come out a little less energetic in the second half, but pushed the Raptors for the majority of this game. Coach Mike Budenholzer, while disappointed with the loss, took solace in the fact the Hawks played hard last night:

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The Atlanta Hawks won their third straight game on the road after picking up an impressive 91-84 victory against the Utah Jazz last night at the Vivint Smart Home Arena — not to be confused with the C-Viv(int) Smart Home Arena. Terrible pun involving Chris Vivlamore of the AJC, I know. Actually, I saw Bob Rathbun tweet that last night and I just found it amusing and wanted to re-use it. Anyways…

The Hawks were led by Jeff Teague’s 24 points, and Paul Millsap put up 18 points and nine rebounds against his former club. The Jazz, meanwhile, were led by Gordon Hayward’s 22 points, while Derrick Favors and Rodney Hood both added 16 points.

The victory ensures that Hawks’ are guaranteed to have a .500+ record on their five road trip, as this victory puts the Hawks road trip at 3-1 — the only loss coming to Golden State in overtime.

Defensive enforcement continues

Since February 1st, the Hawks have led the entire NBA in defensive rating at 94.7. Their net rating, since February 1st, ranks second in the league at +8.7 — only trailing the 54-10 San Antonio Spurs, whose net rating is +11.9. Last night the Hawks held the Jazz to just 84 points on 34.9% shooting. Over their last six games (including last night’s victory), the Hawks have held their opponents to just 37% from the field.

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The Atlanta Hawks swept the L.A. back-to-back stint following a 107-97 victory against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center. Led by Paul Millsap’s 20 points and 18 rebounds, the Hawks are now 2-1 on their five game road trip and will face the Utah Jazz — where they will meet former Hawks point guard Shelvin Mack — on Tuesday night.

17 point comeback 

The omens were not looking good for the Hawks after the first quarter — their stifling defense had conceded 37 first quarter points before seeing the Clipper lead stretch to as large as 17 points in the second quarter. The Clippers eventually cooled off, and a 12-2 Hawks run in the final 3:16 of the second quarter meant that the lead heading into the break sat at just five.

Kent Bazemore understood the shooting percentages would eventually catch up with the Clippers:

“Percentages catch up. Very rarely do teams go four quarters shooting at that clip. They were like 50 percent in the first quarter. That comes down to the 40’s. We just stayed the course. — Kent Bazemore

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The Atlanta Hawks triumphed over the shorthanded Los Angeles Lakers last night (106-77) on the first night of their L.A. back-to-back. The Lakers were without their three top scorers — Kobe Bryant, Jordan Clarkson, and Lou Williams all sat this one out.

The Hawks were led by Dennis Schöder’s 16 points off the bench while the Lakers were led by Julius Randle’s 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Kris Humphries’ debut

Coach Mike Budenholzer wasted no time in sending out Kris Humphries (signed on Tuesday) for his Atlanta Hawks debut. It says a lot that Bud would send out the fresh faced Humphries right into the fold rather than Mike Muscala, a guy much more familiar with how the Atlanta offense runs. Bud has been clearly desiring an established big for his rotation in the wake of Tiago Splitter’s season ending hip surgery if he was willing to send him out straight away.

Humphries had himself a great debut — scoring 14 points and securing eight rebounds. Based on the his showing last night, Humphries is going to be a great addition for the Hawks bench, and his strenghts are things that the Hawks really need — rebounding and versatility:

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The Atlanta Hawks began their five game road trip in heartbreaking fashion — suffering a 109-105 overtime defeat to the Golden State Warriors. Without Steph Curry and Andre Iguodala, the Warriors were missing a combined 38 points, 10 assists, and 9.5 rebounds for this game. As such, the game became a defensive affair — a game much more up the Hawks’ street. But the Hawks were unable to prevail, and they lost a heartbreaker in overtime.

 A great second half, but another tough loss

Things weren’t looking too great for the Hawks as they headed into the locker room at halftime. They trailed the Warriors by 48-59, as the Warriors shot 47% in the first half. One hot Klay Thompson quarter, and this game would be in serious danger of being over before the fourth quarter. But the Hawks turned the defensive screw in the second half — holding the Warriors to 38 points in the second half on 30% shooting.

The Hawks executed on both ends in the fourth quarter — making 10 of their 18 field goal attempts (55%), while holding the Warriors to 30% shooting in the fourth.

The key to this turnaround were the defensive adjustments the Hawks made. More specifically, the Hawks switched their pick-and-roll coverage, which caught the Warriors off guard:

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