Archives For December 2016

Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks avenged the ghosts of Christmas past/December 2nd (the day the Hawks lost by 36 points at home to the Pistons) and knocked off the Detroit Pistons 105-98. The win is Atlanta’s second in succession and — given the Hawks’ yo-yo nature this season — their first back-to-back victories since November 15th (vs. Miami) and November 16th (vs. Milwaukee). The Pistons were led by a season high 22 points from The Tackle Box: Jon Leuer.

Season high from Korver and defense lifts Hawks to victory

Kyle Korver poured in a season high 22 points on 7-of-13 shooting, with most of those 22 points off of two-pointers rather than threes.

korvervsdet

Korver’s 22 off the bench helped the Hawks’ bench outscore Detroit’s bench 38-15 which was huge for the Hawks. Per Chris Vivlamore of the AJC, when Kyle was asked what the difference was to this game and the last game the Pistons played, Dennis Schröder — at his own locker — said “Kyle Korver“.

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Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks won their first overtime game since the March 18th 2014 as they outlasted the New York Knicks in overtime, 102-98. In what was an ugly affair to watch at times, the Hawks evened up the season series with the Knicks 1-1 and the victory lifts the Hawks back to .500 at 16-16. Derrick Rose led the way for the Knicks with 26 points while Kristaps Porzingis added 24 points.

An ugly game but Hawks get it done… eventually

While this was a closely contested and chippy game (no team led by more than eight points while four technical fouls and two flagrant fouls were issued) it was certainly not a pretty game. Both teams shot below 40% (37% for the Knicks, 36% for Atlanta) and both shot 7-of-27 from behind the arc. But those numbers don’t do this game justice, it was ugly to watch.

“It was scrappy. We did a lot of good things on the floor. The defense was pretty good down the stretch. We have to continue to get better.” — Dwight Howard

But the bottom line is the Hawks got this one done, snapping a long streak of losing in overtime. I want to look at the last possession of regulation, because the Hawks had the opportunity to win this game in regulation. Let’s take a look at it first.

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 26: Dwight Howard #8 of the Atlanta Hawks dunks the ball against the Minnesota Timberwolves on December 26, 2016 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)

David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks fell — in spectacular fashion — to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the second time this season, falling 104-90 at Target Center. And, to be honest, that scoreline flatters the Hawks, the Wolves just ran the Hawks out of the building. The Wolves outscored the Hawks 66-40 in the second and third quarters, sending the Wolves to just their fifth victory at home. Karl-Anthony Towns shot a perfect 8-for-8 from the field on his way to 22 points while Zach LaVine torched the Hawks from the outside, shooting 6-of-9 from three-point range on his way to 21 points.

For the Hawks, no one outside of Dwight played particularly well, the starters (outside of Dwight) combining for just 30 points.

Raining threes 

The Timberwolves tied their season high of 15 three-pointers last night as they shot 15-of-31 from behind the arc. The Wolves were on fire from three but they sure had help because the Hawks did not defend the perimeter very well. That’s not to say the Wolves didn’t deserve the shots they took/made because they moved the ball well last night and made some tough shots too, but they shouldn’t have made as many as 15. Let’s take a look at some of the easier threes the Hawks allowed last night.

A poor pass from Dwight is telegraphed by Ricky Rubio and LaVine drifts out to the three-point line. Kent Bazemore is supposed to be guarding LaVine, but decides to head towards Karl-Anthony Towns instead and leaves LaVine wide open and he knocks the three down.

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Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

Whoa! A feature?? Yes, yes a feature because we’re about to enter a crucial point in the Atlanta Hawks’ season. These next two weeks… these next two weeks could determine whether the Hawks are going to be legitimate contenders for home court advantage (the three and four seeds) or whether they’re going to be in a dogfight with, like, seven other teams all jostling for playoff position, or the playoffs in general.

Let’s look at the upcoming schedule over the next two weeks and we’ll chat more then.

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Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images

Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images

For the second time this week the Atlanta Hawks stole another game on the road, this time against the Denver Nuggets in the Mile High City, triumphing 109-108. Dennis Schröder led the way to victory with 27 points while ‘The Rooster’, Danilo Gallinari, led the Nuggets with 21 points.

The run that won

The Hawks displayed fantastic energy in the Mile High City, recovering from a 10 point deficit that they faced in the third quarter, stuck with the Nuggets in the fourth quarter, trailing by just two points — 100-102 following a three from Mike Muscala — with just 2:50 remaining. But then the Nuggets reeled off a 6-0 run to take a 108-100 lead with 1:43 remaining. Uh-oh, here we go again… Right?

Wrong. The Hawks ended the game on a 9-0 run, entirely from the free throw line, to somehow steal this game 109-108.

“It’s crazy how it happened. You never know in this league how you can win a game.” — Paul Millsap

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Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks’ offense sputtered down the stretch as they dropped another home game to another team below .500, this time to the Minnesota Timberwolves (who were 8-19 heading into this game), 94-82. Karl-Anthony Towns posted a nasty double-double, 17 points and 18 rebounds while Andrew Wiggins scored a team high 19 points. Per Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune, Towns is the first NBA player this season to record three consecutive games of at least 15 points and 15 rebounds in a game. The last player to do it was… Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2014.

Offensive woes in final period

Despite a woeful start to this game (the Wolves quickly running out to 12-2 and 15-4 leads respectively), the Hawks — again without Dwight Howard — were in a decent position to win this game, tied at 80 apiece with 5:41 remaining in your own building. Thennnn… the offense broke down, the Hawks only scored four points the rest of the way while the Wolves scored 12 points to take them to victory, only their 10th victory of the season.

So, what happened? The Hawks could have easily won this game… what happened down the stretch? Let’s go through it chronologically.

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Layne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty Images

Layne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks came through in the clutch to pick up a huge victory against the OKC Thunder — in OKC — 110-108 on Monday night. The Thunder will be disappointed, falling short despite 46 points from Russell Westbrook. For the Hawks, they bounce back following their home loss to OKC on December 5th and, more recently, their home loss against the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday evening.

More lineup changes and a Paul Millsap clinic

Dwight Howard was a late scratch from this game with a sore back and Bud went with a different lineup in his absence this time around. When Dwight sat out against the Bucks on November 16th with a calf injury, Coach Bud inserted Mike Muscala into the starting lineup alongside Paul Millsap. This time Bud went with a different lineup: he went with Paul Millsap at center and surrounded him with wing players. Even before the Dwight news broke, we knew that Kent Bazemore was returning to the starting lineup. So, Baze started alongside Thabo Sefolosha and Kyle Korver with Paul Millsap starting at center.

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