Archives For November 2016

 Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks suffered their sixth loss in seven games as they dropped a tightly contested fixture against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, 105-100. The Warriors had three players who scored 20 or more points, Kevin Durant and Steph Curry both scored 25 points while Klay Thompson added 20 points to the Warriors’ cause.

A valiant effort, reason for optimism going forward

Although the Hawks did lose their sixth game in their last seven games, they can be proud of how they played competed against arguably the best team in the NBA, the Warriors now winners of 12 straight games. This was not a bad loss. The Hawks played some good defense — holding the team with the highest offense efficiency in the Warriors (115 points per 100 possessions heading into this game) to 101 points per 100 possessions — and played some good offense, much better than we’ve seen it of late and they cracked 100 points for the first time in six games.

“Definitely better than what it (the Hawks’ offense) has been. We still have to get better. It’s a loss. It goes on to the record. It’s tough but we’ll take and build on it.” — Paul Millsap

The Hawks seemed to run out of gas a little bit in the fourth quarter, where the Warriors outscored the Hawks 25-19. The Hawks missed some decent looks and when the Warriors’ defense clamped down, you just weren’t sure who was going to step up for the Hawks offensively.

A period of the game that, I thought, proved costly for the Hawks was that period of the game where end of the third quarter ends and the first few minutes of the fourth quarter. Tim Hardaway Jr. misses a three-point attempt in the dying embers of the third quarter, and from the resulting stop Ian Clarke drains the buzzer-beating three to cut the Hawks lead from four to one heading into the fourth quarter. The Warriors, with the crowd now energised, reeled a quick 6-0 run that gave the Warriors a five point lead, a lead they would not relinquish.

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Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks’ suffered their second defeat of the season to Los Angeles Lakers, 94-109, in L.A. The Lakers (who were without D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle) were led by Lou Williams’ 21 bench points while Jordan Clarkson added another 18 off of the bench. This latest loss is Atlanta’s fifth in sixth games and the sixth game in a row where the Hawks have failed to crack 100 points.

Hawks unable to maintain hot start

The Hawks started this game really well, flying out of the traps for 32 first quarter points and they looked great on both ends of the floor. They built up a 13 point lead before the Lakers and their fantastic second unit rallied in the second quarter, outscoring the Hawks 35-16 in the period. Nick Young and Larry Nance Jr. put together great individual quarters, and the Lakers’ ability to switch on pick-and-rolls bothered the Hawks enough and it helped the Lakers get back into this game.

“We played a very good first quarter. They made a run and we kind of panicked after that.” — Thabo Sefolosha

The offense — which has been pretty awful of late — was actually looking good in that first quarter. I liked how the Hawks played with pace, it seemed to cause the Lakers some issues but after the first quarter things seemed to slow down.

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Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE/Getty Images

Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks’ road trip hit a nasty bump as they were absolutely crushed 68-95 by the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City. Gordon Hayward scored a game high 24 points while George Hill added another 23 to the Utah cause as the Hawks’ starters combined for just 37 points.

Utah’s outstanding defense

Look, the Hawks’ offense wasn’t great, but a huge reason as to why that was the case was the amazing defensive display that the Utah Jazz produced. You know, sometimes you lose a game not purely because you didn’t play well but because the other team was simply better — this was the case last night. Gobert, Hood, Hill and company played an absolute blinder on the defensive end, holding the Hawks to season lows in scoring (68 points), 11 assists and field goal percentage (32%).

As Mike Conti of 92.9 The Game pointed out on Twitter, these numbers were not only season lows, but all time lows under Coach Mike Budenholzer (2013-present).

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Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks snapped their three game skid — and began their five game road trip — by knocking off the Indiana Pacers 96-85 in Indiana. We’ll get to Dwight Howard’s line in a bit, but Paul Millsap also had a significant impact in this game, scoring 18 points, collecting 11 rebounds, dished out five assists, came up with four steals and blocked three shots.

Reacquainting with an old friend

Jeff Teague spent seven years in Atlanta before requesting a trade this summer. This request was granted with Teague heading to Indiana in the deal that sent George Hill to Utah and the 12th overall selection in the 2016 draft heading to Atlanta.

Chris Vivlamore of the AJC posted a story about Jeff Teague, it’s worth worth checking out. Jeff talks about Atlanta’s ceiling with himself and Al Horford, Dennis Schröder and more. Here’s an excerpt from the piece, the day Teague found out he was headed home:

“When Bud calls you it’s either really good or really bad,” Teague recalled Wednesday morning before his new and former teams met for the first time since the trade. “I said most likely it’s really bad because it’s the summer time and he’s calling me.”

Teague said Budenholzer’s voice cracked. That’s when he knew there had been a trade. The first thing Teague wanted to know was where he was headed.

“I kept reading that I was going to Philly,” Teague said. “I was like he’s going to send me to Philly. Nothing wrong with Philly, great place, great organization. I was like ‘C’mon. C’mon.’ I didn’t even think this (Indiana) was happening. I thought it was Utah, Dallas or Philly. He said, ‘I sent you home.’ I said, ‘Indiana?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I might regret this, but I’m thankful for what you did, and I appreciate you.’”

Ha-ha, “I might regret this”. Considering the Pacers are now 7-9, it’s pretty unlikely (even though it’s still early) that the Hawks and Pacers are going to meet in the playoffs, I don’t think he’ll be regretting it too much now.

Anyways, last night was the first time the two parties met since that trade, in a matchup that Teague called “awkward”.

“It was awkward but it was fun to compete. I wish we could have won.” — Jeff Teague

It was cool to see Teague smiling and catching up with his old teammates pre-game and fun to see him head over to Bob Rathbun and Dominique, as they were live, and pretend to stroke Bob’s hair.

I was excited to see him and Dennis Schröder get after each other, but the matchup was underwhelming in the end. The two didn’t really get after each other and the two didn’t have the greatest games, Teague scoring 11 points on 5-of-15 shooting while Dennis put up nine points on 3-of-11 shooting. That was disappointing, and now we have to wait until March to see Jeff Teague again when the Pacers come to Atlanta.

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Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks suffered their third defeat succession, falling to the New Orleans Pelicans at Philips Arena in spectacular fashion last night, 112-94. The Hawks were absolutely blown out of the water by the Pels, who were ready to ball from the off. They shot the ball well, they played some good defense and did most of their good work without Anthony Davis. The Hawks looked unprepared, didn’t play with effort didn’t play great defense and deserved to lose by at least 25 points. At the end of the game, Hawks color commentator Dominique Wilkins put it very well when he said “You’d like to say it was a valiant effort, but the effort wasn’t there all night long”.

Decisive first quarter

The Pelicans took control of this game very early on and they never looked back, outscoring the Hawks 34-14 in the opening frame while shooting 63% from the field and 57% from behind the arc as they powered to their best victory of the season.

Sure, they hit some tough shots and caught fire in that first quarter, but the Hawks could’ve done a much better job with their own offense. They shot 26% from the field and 9% from three in the first quarter, and I think a lot of this has to fall on the floor general, the point guard: Dennis Schröder. The point guard is supposed to facilitate/run the offense. With the system the Hawks run, there’s a little less emphasis on Schröder to do this the whole time, but he still has to run the system and he didn’t do that in the first quarter, and beyond.

The Hawks were trailing early and needed to get into their offense, get into some sort of flow. What’s a good way to do that? Oh yea, just jack up a three with 19 seconds of shot clock left.

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After losing two straight over the weekend to the Charlotte Hornets and New York Knicks due to lack of energy, the Hawks returned home Tuesday night duplicating the same effort in a 112-94 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. The worst loss of their season entailed trailing by 35 at one point, Anthony Davis scoring just 13 points, lack of ball movement and plenty of head hanging. This game out of the three felt different, especially on a night rapper Gucci Mane brought so much energy and enthusiasm to Philips Arena with his highly anticipated halftime performance; the Hawks looked lifeless.

Their top-ranked defense looked out of sorts and uninspired, which attributed to the Pelicans shooting their second-highest field goal percentage of the season.

“They were too comfortable, they were too free, they had a lot of open looks,” said Coach Budenholzer postgame. “We couldn’t get to their shooters or contain the ball. 112 points total, 34, 32, 39 [first three quarter Pelican point total] that’s just way too many points, that’s not good enough defense.”

In the Budenholzer-era, this team has consistently been one of the best defenses the league has to offer; Hawks opponents are fully aware they will have to earn their points the hard way. The hardest part of the night for the New Orleans players looked like tying their shoes and putting on the jerseys.

Not only did they take it to the Hawks, but also guys like Tim Frazier and E’twaun Moore penetrated through Atlanta’s defense without a second thought. One of the founding principles of this defense is to make nothing easy in the paint, contest everything. The Hawks didn’t do that on Tuesday night and the Pelicans’ ball movement — 319 passes made — gave the Hawks a bit of their own medicine.

“They just played great basketball from the beginning to the end,” said Dwight Howard. “The moved the ball, the ball didn’t stick at all. They did a good job of finding the open man and attacking the gaps.”

Now after the most embarrassing loss of the season, this team looks ahead to a tough five game road trip starting with the Indiana Pacers and ending with the new look Golden State Warriors. This type of loss might of came at the right time, early enough to send a message and refocus, not too late enough to panic. That focus will be tested on their first lengthy road trip of the season, especially since they are shooting worse (45.2-percent) and accumulating less assists (22.5 per game) away from home in six games this season.

In an 82 game season, losing streaks say more about a team than the contrary, particularly for a squad with title aspirations like the Hawks. How they respond in Indiana Wednesday night will more than likely set the tone for the remainder of the trip, but also give insight into how mentally tough they are at this point.

“I think this will be good for us,” said Howard. “We need this early test because it will make us stronger. I think we will come out of all of this, a really good situation. We have to take it one game at a time; it’s going to be a tough trip.”

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Atlanta Hawks dropped their second game in a row, succumbing to a 104-94 loss at the hands of the New York Knicks at MSG. Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 19 points while Dwight Howard scored 18 points and pulled down 18 boards.

‘Mix and match’ uni’s return

Oh hey, the Hawks are doing this again: mixing and matching their road and alternate jerseys on road games on Sunday’s. How do you feel about these? Personally, I don’t mind this variation. It’s the black jersey with the red shorts that is a little too much for me…

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

No answer for Carmelo Anthony 

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Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

On the second night of a back-to-back, without Dwight Howard and Thabo Sefolosha, the Hawks notched their six consecutive victory after they topped the Milwaukee Bucks 107-100 in Atlanta. Paul Millsap led the way with 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting while Jabari Parker scored 21 of his 23 points in the second half for the Bucks.

Decisive second quarter

The Hawks entered the second quarter trailing 26-21 and reeled off a 19-0 run to begin the second period in what proved to be a decisive run as the Hawks outscored the Bucks 31-9. The Bucks shot 3-of-28 in the period and faced an uphill battle the rest of the way.

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“We couldn’t make the ball fall in the second quarter. We scored just nine points. It was hard to recover.” — Giannis Antetokounmpo

This run was sparked by the second unit and their energy was instrumental in reeling off the run and with Thabo Sefolosha sitting this one out, Taurean Prince finally got the opportunity to showcase what he’s all about.

Prince had the building rocking when he exploded to the rim for this dunk.

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Hawks Rave About Taurean Prince

Eric Yeboah —  November 17, 2016

The second night of a back-to-back game usually requires much more production from a bench. The Hawks bench, currently ranked fifth in bench scoring, has been one of the league’s best thus far. In their sixth straight victory they defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 107-100 without the services of Dwight Howard (quad) and Thabo Sefolosha (knee). The starters appeared sluggish and out of sync in the first quarter, shooting just 35 percent from the field, prompting Coach Budenholzer to quickly turn to his backups.

The Hawks began the second quarter trailing 26-21 until a SportsCenter top-10 dunk along the baseline by rookie Taurean Prince jumpstarted a 19-0 run.

“I thought Tauren was great,” Budenholzer said postgame. “Just the physicality he plays with, the aggressiveness he plays with, really gave us a big boost on both ends of the court.”

“That was really nice,” said Mike Muscala of Prince’s dunk. “I was pretty surprised, I did not see that coming. He’s going to be a really good player.”

Picked 12th in this year’s draft, many may have been expecting more appearances this season from Prince. However, with a veteran like Sefolosha that Bud can trust and the sharp shooting Tim Hardaway Jr has displayed, Prince has been forced to remain patient, but ready. He was just that on Wednesday night, logging eight points, five rebounds and two blocks in 19 minutes of action.

“In my opinion the best teacher is experience,” Prince said. ” For me to get out there with the guys. We put in a lot of hard work behind the scenes that people don’t see. I am ready for the opportunity, whatever opportunity I can continue to get, I will continue to take advantage of it.”

The opportunities will be fed to Prince gradually as the season progresses under a Budenholzer that has a tendency to keep young wings on a short leash. Tim Hardaway Jr and Kent Bazemore both are examples of what happens when a organization takes time in laying out a program that makes a concerted effort to truly deduce — to a science — a player’s strengths and weaknesses, along with what steps need to be taken in order for him to maximize his talent.

“Just another testament of the Atlanta Hawks player development system,” said Bazemore on Prince’s play on Wednesday night. “A guy works hard every day and when he gets his name called he’s ready. That’s one of his [Taurean] greatest attributes is he’s fearless, he’s out there chirping, hitting people, finishing above the rim and that’s his game. It’s good when you can get a young fella this early in his career and be that confident.”

Confidence is what got him to the league — it’s part of what drew the Hawks to him and it’s also how he will gain minutes going further. The untapped potential he possesses, along with his high tenacity level, is a coach’s dream, especially to a true teacher of the game like Budenholzer. Prince, like any other rookie, is still grasping schemes, counters and what making the right play at this level entails, but if Wednesday night is any indication, his ascension has only just hit its genesis.

His dunk is a must see, a show stopper and one of the most exciting plays the Hawks have executed this year. But that alone won’t keep him on the floor — playing the Hawks’ brand of basketball will.

“Anybody that comes into our team you kind of have to learn how we play, said Korver. Its not about just having talent and attacking the basket, there’s a method to the madness. He’s got a lot of natural ability and talent. For him, I told him at half time his best play was when he drove to the basket and whipped it to Tim for the shot. I told him that was your best play, not the big awesome dunk that you had, which was incredible. He’s just got to keep feeling how we play and I think that is a great play to go back and review.”