There are some good news and some bad news about the Atlanta Hawks…
The good news is that the Atlanta Hawks won a game.
The bad news is that the Atlanta Hawks really should have lost.
The Atlanta Hawks are in a major freefall losing seven straight games which included an complete embarrassment loss to the Brooklyn Nets. They were still in the same set of circumstances injury wise, playing without the services of Paul Millsap, Kent Bazemore and Thabo Sefolosha. One more loss and the Hawks would match their longest losing streak in the Mike Budenholzer era which happened during his first season in 2014.
Dennis Schroder finished with 27 points, nine assists and six rebounds. He was key in a 17-1 run in the fourth quarter, hitting two consecutive 3-pointers to lift the Hawks to a 95-91 victory over the Phoenix Suns. That’s the good news…
The bad news is that he had a sloppy floor game committing eight turnovers where the Hawks offense at times looked hard to watch. After jumping to a 18-point lead in the first quarter, the Hawks took numerous coffee breaks for the rest of the game which included a four and a half minute scoring drought in the last quarter.
With a bad loss by the Indiana Pacers to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Hawks picked up a game in the playoff chase while staying even with Milwaukee Bucks. The Hawks do have a tie-breaker as of this writing.
Following this game was tough… so are these…
Lesson Number One: Both teams couldn’t shoot a lick.
If the Phoenix Suns weren’t doing their best to tank the season, the Hawks would have lost this game. Understand that Tyson Chandler, Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight and Leandro Barbosa all never saw the floor because of coach’s decision. That along with Devin Booker sitting out with an ankle injury fresh off of a 70 point explosion on the Boston Celtics, the Suns struggled to score. That’s being kind.
The Suns had their lowest scoring first quarter of the season tallying only 12 points. Would you believe that they have had an even worse scoring quarter? That happened November 25 against the Timberwolves. They scored 10. The Suns only shot 36% from the field for the game which included 7-31 from three point range…UGH!
Phoenix Suns’ Jared Dudley on the game, via ESPN:
“Everyone knows we’re undermanned and it’s going to be tough every night”…”Schroder hit two good 3s. I thought those two 3s were the difference in the game. If he missed one of them, they might not win the game.”
This is not good if you are a Hawks fan. Despite not having Devin Booker to injury and throwing all of their veterans in a broom closet, the Suns still took their first lead at 10:37 left in the game and led 78-71 at one point before the Hawks went on their run.
Lesson Number Two: Ersan Ilyasova and Taurean Prince were HUGE!
Ersan Ilyasova and Taurean Prince were fill-in starters for the shorthanded Hawks. They both was huge in bailing Atlanta out in supporting Dennis Schroder and his scoring outburst.
Ilyasova finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds while Taurean Prince finished with 15 points and six rebounds.
Prince came through with five consecutive points in the 17-1 run to finish the Suns off. For Ilyasova, this is the second consecutive game with double digit rebounds. With a team that can’t throw the ball in the ocean these days, rebounders are needed to help out Dwight Howard, who finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds himself.
Lesson Number Three: Boy! Kent Bazemore and Thabo Sefolosha need to get back quick!!!
Because the bench is suffering big time. Thabo Sefolosha, Kent Bazemore and Paul Millsap are players that are needed going forward. But the underlying issue is that bench players are being put in stop gap roles that they are not used to being in. Ilyasova and Prince did okay against the Suns, but they are playing extended minutes in roles they are not used to. Tim Hardaway Jr. has struggled the last couple of games which includes a putrid two point performance on 1-9 shooting in 32 minutes.
Mike Dunleavy made an rare appearance after being out with injury, but you can’t count on him being in basketball shape yet. Jose Calderon is just a stop gap replacement at this point in his career. As for Kris Humphries, who led the bench scorers with seven points, I always liked him on “Keeping Up With the Kardashians”.
Here are my three lessons…now learn from this!!!
Paul Millsap missed his sixth straight game with his ailing left knee. He had a non surgical procedure done on the knee. It is reported that he will be out at least through Sunday. Kent Bazemore is scheduled to play on Wednesday. Thabo Sefolosha is scheduled to come back soon, but it is not clear as of this writing.