Archives For November 2016

Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty Images

Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks made it five wins in a row following their latest conquest over the shorthanded Miami Heat — who were without Goran Dragić and Justise Winslow — with a 93-90 road victory. The Hawks were led by Dennis Schröder’s team high 18 points while the Miami Heat were led by Tyler Johnson’s game high 19 points and Hassan Whiteside’s 19 points, 25 rebounds performance, the most rebounds in a game by any player in the league so far this season (as well as a season high 10 offensive rebounds).

Dwight Howard’s injury: last night and going forward

The Hawks got the win but the big news from Miami was that Dwight Howard injured his left quad and sat out of the fourth quarter. Speaking after the game:

“It’s super tight right now. Really painful. I wanted to come back out there but they said it wasn’t worth it this early in the season. There is a lot of pain. We are going to get treatment tonight, get treatment in the morning and see how it feels.” — Dwight Howard

Howard sustained the injury when he banged into Hassan Whiteside late in the third quarter. Coach Bud said that the Hawks would be “aggressive” when it came to treating the injury (since the Hawks play again later today at home to Milwaukee) and Dwight is officially listed as “questionable” for tonight’s game.

Dwight had been doing a good job defensively on Whiteside, but his absence meant that the Hawks had their hands full trying to deal with Whiteside in the fourth quarter. They struggled initially but Paul Millsap decided he wanted to guard Hassan as the Hawks’ center in crunch time.

“Usually whenever Paul asks for something, he gets it.” — Coach Mike Budenholzer

Millsap took up that position with just under four minutes remaining in the game. Whiteside had grabbed five rebounds (three of them offensive) in the fourth quarter up to that point, how many did he secure in crunch time after Paul checked in at center? One.

“I feel like I can cause him some problems. I can get to his body, get low, keep him out of the paint. If he catches it, use my hands to disturb him. The few times he got it, I was able to deflect it.” — Paul Millsap

Yes, with those “f***ing amazing hands” Millsap’s hands can indeed cause problems… But it’s worth pointing out that Whiteside (on the second night of a back-to-back) was pretty gassed by this stage of the game and I’m sure it did contribute.

Continue Reading…

Hawks Discuss Donald Trump

Eric Yeboah —  November 15, 2016

Post-election discussions have been rampant throughout the NBA following Tuesday’s presidential race outcome. Athletes and coaches of all races and backgrounds voiced their support and displeasure on what looks to be one of the most divisive presidential elections this country has ever seen.

The Atlanta Hawks are a part of a city so densely cosmopolitan that to avoid the outcry of protesters would be as hard as convincing Donald Trump to stop using the word huge. After facing the Philadelphia 76ers Saturday night, they faced questions about the commander-in-chief-to-be.

“I think everybody was surprised by it because a lot of the polls didn’t show that,” Ryan Kelly said. “But for me personally, I look at it and say he’s going to be the President and that is a position I think we should respect. People aren’t perfect and hopefully, he can be a better man now that he’s in office.”

The hope for the 54 percent of the country that voted against Trump is for some sort of rehabilitation will take place.His message resonated with enough individuals that were begging for some sort of drastic change that, no matter the messenger and how the message, they would try to get their way. The result: one of the most nuanced and polarizing elections in American history.

It seems that the NBA has already staked their claim on the opposing end. In a league of such diversity of background — a league that employs six women in team vice presidential roles, two women as assistant coaches and, of course, its bevy of black and international players — there is no doubt how the NBA sees the results of the election. In fact, Commissioner Adam Silver has already sent a league-wide email reinforcing the NBA’s commitment to equality and diversity.

Thabo Sefolosha, born in Switzerland, seemed puzzled by the final result: Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but lost the election?

“I cannot vote, but It was very entertaining nonetheless to watch,” Sefolosha said. “Of course I had an opinion, it’s the votes of the American people that have been heard, but it was just weird to see Hillary Clinton received more votes than Donald Trump [and lose].”

The results of the popular vote are contributing to the anger that some feel towards a democratic system our leaders boast is the fairest to live under. So when Americans deem a political or social issue to be un-American, they take to the streets to display just how disgusted they are. American history is flooded with protest for all sorts of causes — police conduct, civil, gay, immigration rights, etc. However, never have we seen protest permeate across the country in response to the outcome of a Presidential election like we have seen in these past few days. These protests have spawned an excitement for activism and at the same time brought into the question the efficacy of the very same protests.

“I don’t think those protesters [sic] should be happening,” Sefolosha said. “You have the right to vote and if you didn’t vote and the person you wanted to get elected didn’t get elected, well that’s too bad. The results are a reflection of the country, it’s a democracy, the way the country is run; so if everybody has the right to vote they should have been more vocal before instead of rioting afterward.”

According to electproject.org, just 56.9 percent of eligible voters actually cast a ballot, a decrease from 58.6 percent in 2012. This election, like all elections, felt more pivotal than the last; but that still wasn’t enough to garner the attention of the indifferent voter. Colin Kaepernick, who is protesting the system in which the United States governs under, has spoken out extensively on his decision not to vote and received much backlash. Many are choosing to diminish his previous efforts because of his decision to abstain, while others like Ryan Kelly and Thabo Sefolosha believe it falls right in line with his stance.

“I think his message is still relevant, in a sense that he wants to see change and that’s part of the change,” Kelly said. “This has been in the media for a while, something we saw publicly and it’s a huge part of our lives. There is no problem with showing that you feel that where we are as a country isn’t where we need to be and Regardless of whose president most people can say that.”

“I think that not voting is pretty much in line with what he believes,” Sefolosha added. “He is making a stand by taking a knee during the anthem. He is trying to keep people aware of a problem that has been happening in America.”

Whether or not you agree with Kaepernick and the many others’ decision to sit out, the outcome still remains — Donald Trump is the 45th president of the United States. Discussions about putting personal feelings to the side during his presidency have been prominent across the country and all of media. Charles Barkley and Oprah Winfrey, for instance, each has conveyed optimism for Trump.

Add the Hawks’ starting small forward, Kent Bazemore, to that list.

“I am excited man,” Bazemore said. “Something new, obviously the rest of society hasn’t taken it well with all of the protest and riots. But I think people all across the country are sick and tired of how things have always been and that’s why you get a guy like him in office to shake things up a bit. Make America Great Again is his slogan and as a President, we should stand behind him. I am all for change, never been afraid of change — Barack Obama said he has a shifting confidence in Trump. Like Oprah said, I think everybody can take a deep breathe now.

“You know I was reading a post the other day, talking about how Trump is what America is. I think that we should all come together during a time like this. Some people are scared of change, but I am not, let’s do it, let’s see what he’s got because that’s all you can do is stand behind him. For a man like him to be talked about as negatively as he has all his life and still assumes the position of power says a lot about him and his resilience and as a leader that’s what you want.”

LeBron James, one of the most socially outspoken athletes in today’s sports world, expressed a message of hope, positivity, and faith to women, youth and minorities on Instagram last Wednesday. It was a message to uplift those who felt as though they would have no say in their future. Those who strongly believe the character of an elected political official is a reflection of the environment they will have to endure each and every day.

However, Bazemore disagrees with the notion that the President is the moral figure of the country.

“The President doesn’t really dictate a lot of individuals,” Bazemore said. “I feel like you can make whatever out of your life you want if you get up and work hard every day, the world is yours. There is nothing [Trump] can do to hold you back as an individual, so us as citizens need to be more consciousness of the impact we have as individuals and strive for greatness every day.”

 

Avery Yang Contributed Reporting

Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks stretched their winning streak to four games with a 117-96 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, who were without Joel Embiid (rest). Dwight Howard recorded another double-double (guess we should just get used to that) with 10 points and 11 rebounds while Jahlil Okafor led the Sixers with 18 points.

Another great bench performance

For the second game in a row the Hawks’ bench put in a great performance — 54 points led by Tim Hardaway’s game high of 20.

“It was a good win. The bench continues to be very, very big for us. A lot of different guys played well. It’s good going into a big week next week.” — Coach Mike Budenholzer

Speaking after the Hawks’ win over the Bulls, Thabo Sefolosha said “…Different nights, different guys step up” and that rung true again last night. THJ added 20 but perhaps the surprise of last night was Kris Humphries adding 13 off the bench. Malcolm Delaney added another nine points and six assists.

“Tim had an incredible game, but he wasn’t the only one. Kris Humphries as well. We’re rolling right now. We’ll try to keep it up. We wanted to play a little bit better from start to finished but we had some spurts where we really played well, played together and executed on defense and offense.” — Thabo Sefolosha

I had concerns about this bench at the start of the season but they’ve been great so far. And look, take this with a grain of salt, these are the Sixers and they still suck, but even still it’s good to see the bench getting things done.

“I just feel like we have a lot of guys who are playing well right now, a lot of guys playing with a lot of confidence. They are mixing and matching well. They are sharing the ball well. I think to have that, if you want to call it a wave, different guys making plays that’s what it takes for us to be good.” — Coach Mike Budenholzer

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Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

Second game of a back-to-back at home following a great win Cleveland… Perfect setup for a let down game, right? Wrong. Behind a total team effort (eight player scoring in double digits), the Atlanta Hawks won their second game in two nights with a 107-115 victory over the Chicago Bulls. Thabo Sefolosha led the team in scoring with 20 points while Dwight Howard added another double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Thabo and the bench

Continue Reading…

 

David Liam Kyle/NBAE/Getty Images

David Liam Kyle/NBAE/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks handed the last unbeaten team in the NBA, the Cleveland Cavaliers, their first loss of the season — in the Q no less — triumphing 110-106 over the defending champs. The Hawks were led by a career night from Dennis Schröder (which we’ll get to) while Paul Millsap poured in 21 points and Kent Bazemore added 23, picking up from where he left off against Houston.

Streaks snapped

Not only did the Hawks halt the Cavs’ six game win streak but they ended their own 11 game losing streak that the Cavs have held over them since 2015.

The Cavaliers were just that one team (besides the Spurs) that the Hawks just couldn’t beat. Prior to this season, the Cavs were just built to beat the Hawks. No one could stop LeBron at the rim and Tristan Thompson did whatever he wanted on the offensive glass as the Cavs would destroy the Hawks in the rebounding battle. But if last night was any indication of things to come, that might be a thing of the past…

“It’s definitely a different year.” — Kent Bazemore

Dwight Howard, though only joining the Hawks this summer, was aware of the Hawks’ 11 game losing skid to the Cavs and he wanted to right that wrong.

“I aware of it (the losing streak to the Cavs). I’m from Atlanta. I’ve watched in the playoffs. That’s all in the past. We want to change that. We don’t want to talk about it. We don’t want to think about it. It happened but we want to make sure it never happens again.” — Dwight Howard

Dwight played a key role in snapping this streak and we’ll get to that very soon.

I thought this was such an important win for the Hawks. This Cavs team has held a vice at Atlanta’s neck for the past two seasons and for the Hawks to exorcise some of those demons with this win (even though this wasn’t a playoff win) was so important heading into future games between these two sides, just to give them the confidence of “You know what, we can beat this team”.

As Kent Bazemore said, this year sure is a different year, and there was one aspect of this game where things were definitely different…

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ATLANTA — Despite James Harden’s 30 point and 12 assist effort — his fourth game, out of six total games played this season, of 30 or more points and 10 or more assists in a game — the Hawks were able to play cohesively enough on both ends of the floor to defeat the Rockets 112-97 on Saturday night.

Though buoyed by an all-encompassing performance from the Hawks’ starting lineup — all five starters finished the game with double-digit points — the Hawks’ play on the defensive side of the ball was the true catalyst for the victory. The Rockets finished with a season high 25 turnovers and littered each quarter with poorly weighted lead passes down low and along the perimeter. The amalgam of poor execution on the part of Houston and the steady defensive intensity of Atlanta coalesced into an effective defensive performance.

“The discipline to keep Harden off the free throw line and the activity to still create turnovers probably puts us in a position to have a great defensive game,” Head Coach Mike Budenholzer said.

Dwight Howard put together his fourth straight double-double of the season with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Howard had four rolls to the rim that resulted in alley-oop dunks, and his presence in the paint served as a defensive anchor throughout.

In what was one of the signature plays of the game, Howard leapt up to meet the Rockets’ KJ McDaniels at the rim after the latter attempted a dunk over Howard. As Howard extended upwards, it looked, on video review, as if he got all-ball on his extension, but to no avail — it was called a foul by the referee. The crowd groaned in disapproval, finally awakening from a slumber that permeated the peanut gallery until just about this point in the match.

“Everybody makes mistakes,” said Howard on the referee’s second quarter missed call. “We miss plays, you guys misspell a word sometimes.”

Paul Millsap toyed with Nene and Ryan Anderson in the post. Millsap scored a bulk of his baskets on drives to the hoop set up by the Hawks’ selfless offense, but three baskets in particular against Nene displayed Millsap’s refined offensive post game. In an ideal coupling of hesitation moves and quick feet, Millsap knocked in three easy shots within six feet in a span of minutes against a confused and disenchanted Nene. One play in particular left Nene several feet to Millsap’s left as Millsap let his shot go, despite the fact that Millsap started his possession posted up by the elbow. Millsap finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds, a customary night for a man who is not customarily recognized for his abilities.

Kent Bazemore, after a tough first five games from the field, came into this game looking to fire up shots despite the fact that his gun hasn’t been quite as accurate as it once was. Through his first five games, Bazemore shot 27.7 percent from the field — he shot seven for 12 on Saturday night, increasing his overall field goal percentage by more than six points.

“I’m very happy with Baze,” Budenholzer said. “The shots are going to go. The offense is going to come. It’s great for him to see a bucket go.”

Bazemore utilized the corner three against the Rockets in order to get back into his shooting groove. During a minute stretch in the third quarter, Bazemore knocked down two of his three 3-pointers on the night by slyly drifting to the corner and smoothly knocking down two open threes from virtually the same spot.

“[The corner three] is a comfort zone for me,” Bazemore said. “A lot of threes I took early this season were wing threes, top of the key threes — so when you’re trying to find your rhythm you always got to go back to what you know and what feels comfortable.”

Bazemore finished the game with 20 points, four assists and four rebounds to go along with one of his signature post-game Baze gazes that interrupted Dwight Howard’s interview. Howard later described the gesture somewhat facetiously as: “the ugliest face ever.” Kyle Korver (10 points, four for six from the field) and Dennis Schroder (17 points, 12 assists) rounded out the double-digit scoring quintet.

As has stayed rather constant throughout the year, dependable defensive intensity took a plurality of the responsibility for the Hawks’ win. Even if specific players struggle, like Bazemore had been up until tonight, the team is able to combat a potential dearth in offensive production with hard work on the defensive side of the ball. Look for that mantra to hold true as the team continues to mesh, fully, into Budenholzer’s defensive philosophy.

The Hawks play next at the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday, November 8.

Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

Alright first off: house cleaning. I apologise for missing a few of these early season games. Please understand that I not only live in Ireland (which means games are on very late) but I also work a full time job (which I didn’t have last season) and that drains a lot out of me, and I can’t stay up until 3 am after a full day of work to watch these games when I need to be up again at 7:30. I also just moved out of my family home into my own place and I’ve been trying to adjust to that too. I start part-time hours tomorrow, so you should hear more from me going forward. I know I didn’t have to say any of this but hey, I just did. Thanks for (hopefully) understanding — GC

The Atlanta Hawks halted their two game skid with a 112-97 victory over the Houston Rockets at Philips Arena. Let’s dive right in.

Dwight Howard squares off against his old team

This was Dwight’s first game against the Rockets since he traded H-Town for Atlanta in free agency, and he had himself a good game. He prepared himself for this game somewhat differently than his Atlanta teammates are accustomed to.

“…He showed up in a nice suit tonight. I’ll let you come to your own conclusions. That is the first time I’ve seen him wear a suit.” — Kyle Korver

Well, someone didn’t watch his press opener… Or maybe Korver meant that he hadn’t seen Dwight arrive to a game in a suit. Probably that.

On the court, Dwight recorded another double-double — his fifth in the first six games — scoring 20 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. The previous two losses didn’t sit well with Dwight, he really wanted to get that win last night.

“When you get outworked by a team for 48 minutes, it doesn’t sit well with you. Against the Lakers, those guys hit some tough shots. That was one of those games where you are like ‘Ah man, we played great defense and those guys made tough shots.’ But then last night, they just outworked us. You can watch it on film. They were going for loose balls, trying to outrebound us, all the little things. You can’t allow that to happen, especially if our goal is to win a championship.” — Dwight Howard

It wasn’t just Dwight that wanted to beat his former team, his teammates understood what this game meant to Dwight and wanted to win it for him.

“We know that Dwight wanted to win tonight. We wanted to play well for him…” — Kyle Korver

Continue Reading…

Kent Bazemore hasn’t gotten off to the start he would like to so far this season offensively, but knocked off the rust just in time for one of his biggest free agency suitors this summer — the Houston Rockets. Bazemore finished the game with 20 points, shooting 7-12 from the field and 75 percent from beyond the arc. Last season he showed improvement all around, but especially from downtown, shooting 50 percent in the first six games as opposed to just 15 percent this season. It’s far too early to begin to panic, but after agreeing to a 4-year, $70 million contract in the offseason, more eyes are observing Bazemore than ever before.

“I don’t think it’s about the contract,” Bazemore said. “It’s about me having another year in the NBA, this is my fifth year. I have very high expectations for myself. I’m trying to exceed them for myself and I may be pressing a little, but that’s human nature, you want to be great.

Bazemore has mostly been known as a defender in this league, so his offensive production has rarely been his sole focus. He has always guarded the opposing team’s best wing player — like a James Harden or Lebron James — but now he’s also being asked to handle the ball a little bit more this season with the departure of Jeff Teague and insertion of a young Dennis Schroder, which may take some time to adjust. However, more responsibility offers a chance to reach his own offensive goals and aspirations. Guys like Kawhi Leonard or Jimmy Butler can serve as an inspiration for someone like Bazemore — both dominant defensive wings who were able to work their way into being dominant two-way players.

“Being a two way player is what I want to be known for,” Bazemore said. “Defense is what got me here and is probably 10 percent physical attributes and the rest is mental. But I want to continue to expand my game as a player and don’t want to be a guy teams don’t have to guard because I’ve been that guy so much in my life.”

 

However, for Bazemore, his optimism stems from his play last year that resulted in career highs in several categories. Houston took notice of Kent’s improvement and aimed much of their offseason energy in his direction, hoping to add more versatility alongside Harden and Ariza. In a league obsessed with the long ball more than ever before, his services were in high demand. Bazemore’s. The decision between the two organizations was far from easy as his relationship with Coach Mike D’Antoni was strong enough to pique his interest.

 

Listen to Bazemore below as to what ultimately kept him in Atlanta.

 

 

At the moment he’s happy and secure in Atlanta under a Budenholzer system that puts him in the best positions to make an impact on the offensive end. The biggest task for him this season is finding a comfort zone off the dribble in midrange territory. Good defenses will force him off the three-point line and into circumstances when a pull up jumper is necessary. Coming into tonight’s game he was just 6-28 from 16 feet to the three point line

His bank account may have changed but the gleeful kid from Kelford, NC remains positive and grounded in what got him this far.

 

“It’s all about timing and putting in the rhythm. Still putting in the work,still showing up, still lifting weights and still playing defense. The shot will come, there is no need to panic”, said Bazemore.

 

Watch Bazemore’s first 20 point game of the season below!