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Hawks Fall to Raptors 109-102

Bo Churney —  October 29, 2014 — 4 Comments

The NBA’s season opener brought the Hawks to Toronto, where they faced off against the Raptors in Al Horford’s return to regular season basketball.

The Raptors used a 9-2 run at the end of the second quarter to take an eight-point (60-52) lead into halftime. They would not relinquish this lead and instead built upon it in the third quarter. 11 different Raptors scored in the third quarter, allowing Toronto to build a double-digit lead that left the Hawks scrambling for ideas.

Toronto continued their run at the start of the fourth quarter, with their lead ballooning to as many as 19 mid-way through the period. However, Mike Scott and the Hawks re-found the 3-ball late in the game and quickly chipped away at Toronto’s big lead. A DeMarre Carroll layup that was goaltended with 35 seconds left made it a 105-101 game in favor of Toronto and the Hawks quickly fouled DeMar DeRozan to send him to the line. DeRozan missed both free throws, but jumped to just the right spot off the miss to grab the long rebound. DeRozan was then fouled again, making both attempts on the second trip to the line and essentially dashing the Hawks’ comeback hopes.

Horford looked good in first regular season game since December 29, but he was still rusty and tentative with his jumpshot. The result was 6-for-15 from the field for 12 points. Despite that, Horford still played well in the other facets of the game, grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds, dishing out three assists, and block three shots. After the game, Horford said he started to get into a rhythm in the fourth quarter, and it showed when he sank back-to-back jumpers that helped the Hawks cut into the large Raptor lead. Continue Reading…

The Hawks finally conquered the Hornets 117-114 after the game was needlessly extended in overtime.

The officials were atrocious at the end of regulation, but they were even worse in overtime. The Hawks’ final offensive possession in OT — which started with 5.5 seconds left — took over six seconds until Thabo Sefolosha was fouled. The game should have ended, but then the refs reviewed the play for about ten minutes before deciding to put 2.8 seconds back on the clock with Sefolosha at the free throw line. It was an enormous gaffe that led to the game lasting about 15 minutes longer than it should have. If the NBA is serious about trying to reduce the average length of games, maybe look into overly long official reviews and excessive end-of-game timeouts instead of tinkering with the long-time rules of the game.

If you can’t tell, the officials really put a bad ending on what was otherwise an interesting game. Both teams stuck with a mix of starters and rotation players for the duration of the game and some legitimately fun basketball was being played. My complaining and soapbox speaking aside, there are plenty of positives and negatives to discuss about the Hawks from their win. The biggest negative clearly being the team’s continued inability to hold on to leads that has been persistent since last season.

“We’re playing well in stretches,” said Coach Budenholzer in his post-game presser, “and we’re playing beneath our standards for significant stretches. All of us, we need to get better.”

After being outscored 35-23 in the fourth quarter against the Pistons on Saturday, the Hawks blew a 17 point halftime lead when Charlotte was able to force overtime. Continue Reading…

By now you’ve probably read Lakers coach Byron Scott’s comments about 3-pointers. Scott told ESPN.com that 3-pointers help teams make the playoffs but don’t win championships. The numbers show that the opposite is true. The majority of recent NBA champions had the most made 3-pointers in the playoffs, often after posting middle-of-the-pack numbers during the regular season.

The Hawks’ loss to the Pistons was a textbook example of the importance of the 3-pointer. Late in the fourth quarter the Hawks held a 10-point lead while shooting 44% from 3-point range. The Pistons, meanwhile, were shooting only 27% from distance. Brandon Jennings, one of the most infamous streak shooters in the NBA, got hot and hit three in a row. Suddenly the Pistons were shooting 38% from 3-point range and the Hawks’ lead was a distant memory.

The real story of this game, however, is that Andre Drummond is an absolute monster and force to be reckoned with. One coach who is well-acquainted with the importance of the 3-pointer is Stan Van Gundy, who brought in former Hawk Cartier Martin as part of an offseason scour for anyone who could hit a long ball. Van Gundy will shortly be in the unique position of coaching the best center of three successive generations after previously coaching Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard. Continue Reading…

FINAL
Pacers win series, 4-3

IND(4-3) 95 – 80 (3-4) ATL

Key Performers:
P. George (IND): 30 pts, 11 reb, 3 ast, 2 stl
P. Millsap (ATL): 15 pts, 17 reb, 4 ast, 4 stl
[FULL BOX SCORE]

So that’s that.

The Hawks were eliminated from the playoffs on Saturday after a lid seemed to form over their basket in Indiana. The Pacer defense was good, but the Hawks continued to get open look after open look. Unfortunately for the Hawks and their fans, those shots just would not fall.

The Hawks and Pacers were essentially even through the first quarter, but the second quarter is what set this game apart. Paul George got hot, scoring 10 points in the quarter, and the Hawks became icy cold, shooting 4-for-20 from the field in the period, including a 1-for-15 stretch to close out the half. The second half was like the first quarter: essentially a tie. However, the disastrous second quarter cost the Hawks the game and effectively ended their season.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Jeff Teague: This wasn’t exactly a banner game from Jeff: 5-for-16 shooting, five turnovers, and five fouls. Like all of the Hawks, he just couldn’t get his shot to fall, and that affected Jeff more than any other Hawk, as the defense is able to close down and focus more on Teague when the shots aren’t falling. 5/10

Paul Millsap: Millsap was 6-for-21 from the field, but he did maintain his other strengths by continuously getting rebounds and jumping passing lanes. Just one note I want to take away from this game: after the way this series went, I find it odd that Millsap couldn’t get a foul call to save his life here. Not a conspiracy theory or anything, just officiating needs to be more consistent across games. 7/10

Kyle Korver: Korver was one of the only Hawks that was actually able to find the bottom of the net during the game. He finished with 19 points on 6-for-13 shooting, the best shooting by percentage of any Hawk during the game. 6.5/10

DeMarre Carroll: It wasn’t DeMarre’s game, either. Paul George was hitting some extremely tough looks over DeMarre, a matchup disadvantage that was further compounded by DeMarre going 1-for-7 from the field. 5/10

Pero Antic: Pero was 0-for-5 from the floor… yet he posted the highest plus-minus of any Hawks with a plus-2 rating. Plus-minus isn’t everything, but it does seem to be an accurate reflection of Pero’s defensive abilities when compared to Mike Scott. 5/10 Continue Reading…

FINAL
Series tied, 3-3

IND(3-3) 88 – 95 (3-3) ATL

Key Performers:
D. West (IND): 24 pts, 11 reb, 6 ast, 2 stl
P. Millsap (ATL): 16 pts, 18 reb, 5 ast, 3 stl, 2 blk
[FULL BOX SCORE]

Well it’s not like the Hawks lost in the most heartbreaking way imaginable, right? Oh wait…

For the second time in the series, the Hawks blew a late fourth quarter lead which a chance to either take a strangle-hold on the series, or in this game, to completely ice it altogether. Instead, we have the Hawks giving up what was once a double-digit lead, and then to make matters worse, they fouled with 33 seconds left after throwing the ball away while down only two points. (both mistakes courtesy of Lou Williams) Overall, it was just another postseason spectacle that people have become accustomed to seeing from Atlanta sports.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Jeff Teague: Teague may have missed a couple of opportunities last in the game, but it shouldn’t take away from his awesome offensive performance that he had. He scored 29 points — 18 in the second half — and was truly entertaining to watch as he dribbled, drove, and spun his way into the teeth of the Indiana defense. He also only had one turnover in 40 minutes of play. 9/10

Paul Millsap: He wasn’t exactly efficient from the field with his 4-for-13 shooting, but he was usually the steady force on both ends of the floor throughout the entire game. I’m going to repeat his stat line from the key performer listing because it’s worth repeating: 16 points, 18 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and two blocks. He might not have always been successful with his shooting, but he gave his maximum effort in this game. 9/10

Kyle Korver: Wasn’t exactly a banner night for Korver. First off, he couldn’t really hit anything. Then, he got into foul trouble, which makes things worse because even if Kyle can’t hit his open shots, the attention he draws from the defense is always worth the spacing. And of course, he got a technical because Joey Crawford and Bennett Salvatore were officiating this game. 6/10

DeMarre Carroll: It was one of DeMarre’s better defensive performances of the series, as he forced Paul George into 7-for-18 shooting. George was able to get to the FT line 10 times, but none of those attempts were due to a foul on DeMarre. 7.5/10

Pero Antic: Here’s where I’m conflicted: Pero played awful offensive basketball. He was 1-for-7 from the field with three turnovers… yet the Hawks were plus-11 when he was on the floor. The Pacers are still guarding him even though he isn’t hitting his shots, so I really don’t know what to make of his contributions. At least he’s good defensively. 5/10 Continue Reading…

FINAL
Hawks lead the series, 3-2

IND(2-3) 97 – 107 (3-2) ATL

Key Performers:

M. Scott (ATL): 17 pts, 3 reb, 1 ast

P. George (IND): 26 pts, 12 reb, 6 Ast, 6 stl

[FULL BOX SCORE]

At home, the bench thrives. Or that’s at least how the narrative goes.

The Atlanta Hawks weren’t worried about any stinking narratives Monday night when Mike Scott dropped 17 second-quarter points and the road team took a commanding 3-2 series. lead. This game was much less about Indiana staying close to Atlanta and more about the Hawks squandering opportunity after opportunity. They couldn’t execute much on offense and when they did, the shot simply wouldn’t fall. Well that was the case for three of the four quarters, not including the second.

As a team, the Hawks scored 41 points to Indy’s 19 in the second. Shelvin Mack scored 13 off the bench in that frame alone and Atlanta built a 61-40 lead at the break. The Pacers stormed back in the second half, but couldn’t fight back from the 20-point deficit.

Now, the Hawks have a chance to win their first playoff series since 2010-11, when Atlanta stifled Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Jeff Teague: When the Hawks offense was falling apart, Teague kept it above water. Atlanta couldn’t get anything going to start the contest, but the point guard knocked down a few shots early to keep up with the Pacers start. He was one of the Hawks’ six players to finish the night in double-digits points-wise. 7/10

Paul Millsap: Millsap is still the engine pushing this Hawks machine forward. He’s gotten the better of the likes of Roy Hibbert and David West and continued to do the same Monday. Another great all-around game for the forward. 10/10

Kyle Korver: Korver got the 3-ball working Monday and pushed the Hawks with a team-high +21. He hit five triples and nearly recorded a double-double. 8/10

DeMarre Carroll: Carroll chipped in 15 points, but struggled a bit defensively as Paul George exploded for 26 points. 6/10

Pero Antic: Yet another really bad night for Antic. Couldn’t figure out anything on offense, but had a few solid defensive possessions. 1/10

Continue Reading…

FINAL
Series tied, 2-2

IND(2-2) 91 – 88 (2-2) ATL

Key Performers:
P. Millsap (ATL): 29 pts, 7 reb, 3 blk
P. George (IND): 24 Pts, 10 Reb, 5 Ast, 2 Blk
[FULL BOX SCORE]

A win today would have been gigantic for the Hawks. Going up 3-1, winning both games at home, and sending Indiana back home in an even bigger mental mess than they’re already in would have given Atlanta a lot of momentum going into Game 5. However, that wasn’t the case.

The Pacers they played a lot more like themselves. The body language issues that appeared to be plaguing them the entire series were for the most part non existent. The defense returned to form, minus a poor performance in the 2nd quarter, and of course, since they were playing an Atlanta sports team, something that made no sense had to happen. That something was a David West clutch three pointer. Then just as the Hawks thought they had hope with a chance to tie the game at the end, they couldn’t convert. The Pacers missed free throws to ice the game, giving the Hawks one last shot. The Pacers played excellent defense, blew up any semblance of a play, and left the Hawks with a Pero Antic contested 3 that didn’t go in.

Despite the Hawks loss, this series is far from over. The Hawks showed in Game 1 they can win in Indiana. Game 5 is a huge game however. With today’s win, the Pacers have won 3 games in Atlanta since 2006. Winning game 5 would give the Hawks an advantage and put history on their side. Should they lose however, they have to win two straight games. Something they haven’t shown the ability to do.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Jeff Teague: While Teague never had any consistency scoring, shooting 5-for-15 for 14 points, he more than made up for it in the rest of his game. 7 assists, 6 rebounds and a solid defensive effort. However, he did have 4 turnovers. Not his best game in the world but very far from bad as there were moments he looked completely unstoppable. 7/10

Paul Millsap: Millsap was a monster. 10-for-18 from the field for 29 points, 7 rebounds, and he even swatted himself 3 blocks. Millsap again stretched the floor for the Hawks in a big way hitting three of his six three point attempts. When Millsap wasn’t stretching the floor he was dominating everywhere else. Post ups, face ups, spot ups, pull ups, isolations it didn’t matter. Millsap was scoring. On defense he made Roy Hibbert, Ian Mahinimi, and David West’s lives a living hell constantly harassing them. Millsap was the main reason the Hawks had a chance to win at the end. 10/10

Kyle Korver: Good news and bad news. Good news, Korver was able to let it loose from long range and find shots that he wanted to take. Bad news, while Korver let it fly from deep with eight attempts, he only managed to make three of them. He did however play some decent defense and pull down 9 rebounds. 7/10

DeMarre Carroll: Carroll on offense was not pretty. Was almost a non factor. On defense he shined. It would be easy to look at Paul George’s stat line and blame Carroll for that but he contested a lot of shots. Also got to give Carroll some iron man props. He played 40 minutes, more than any other player besides Paul George. Still, it’s very difficult to look past how ineffective Carroll was on offense. 6/10

Pero Antic: I’m not sure if the Pacers are starting to figure Antic out but he had a dreadful game. Defense was alright but other than he contributed nothing. 1/10 Continue Reading…

RECAP: Hawks 98, Pacers 85

Bo Churney —  April 25, 2014 — 1 Comment

FINAL
Hawks lead series, 2-1

IND(1-2) 85 – 98 (2-1) ATL

Key Performers:
J. Teague (ATL): 22 pts, 2 reb, 10 ast
L. Stephenson (IND): 21 pts, 13 reb, 4 ast, 3 stl
[FULL BOX SCORE]

It was a must-win situation for the Hawks; losing meant relinquishing home-court advantage back to the Pacers. They needed a strong performance in their home building and what happened?

Jeff Teague shrugged.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

In front of a sold-out and raucous crowd, the Hawks used a 59-point second half to take a 2-1 series lead on Indiana. Jeff Teague, despite the 7-for-20 shooting night, was tremendous, as he was constantly attacking the Pacer defense. Helping out Teague were Korver and DeMarre Carroll, who combined to shoot 12-for-17 from the floor and 6-for-11 from 3-point range. They were rewarded with a trip to the podium after the game.

demarre

The Hawks now have a chance to take a commanding 3-1 series lead on Saturday.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Jeff Teague: I’m just going to let Jeff’s highlights speak here:

Like I said in the intro, I don’t care if Jeff was 7-for-20 from the field. He was extremely aggressive and produced a lot of open looks for himself and his teammates. 9/10

Paul Millsap: Millsap was a bit sloppy on the night (six turnovers), but he still managed to put up 14 points, 14 rebounds, and four assists. One of his biggest contributions was a clutch 3-pointer that he banked in as the shot clock expired. 7.5/10

Kyle Korver: Kyle finally got his shots to start going in, going 6-for-9 from the field for 20 points. He was responsible for one of the daggers in the fourth quarter, sinking an open corner 3 to give the Hawks a 12-point lead with not much time remaining. 9/10

DeMarre Carroll: In addition to scoring 18 points on 6-for-8 shooting, DeMarre held Paul George to just 12 points on 3-for-11 shooting. He had no turnovers and had a plus-16 rating for the game. It’s probably a good thing that the Hawks didn’t trade him “and more!” for Jeff Green. 10/10

Pero Antic: In 23 minutes, Pero was 0-for-5, scored on one point and only had three rebounds… yet he probably still outplayed Roy Hibbert. Hopefully Pero can get his shooting touch back soon, because he might have a couple of huge shots come his way during the rest of the series. 5/10 Continue Reading…

FINAL
Series is tied, 1-1

IND(1-1) 101 – 85 (1-1) ATL   

Key Performers:
P. Millsap (ATL): 19 pts, 4 reb
P. George (IND): 27 pts, 10 reb, 6 ast, 4 stl
[FULL BOX SCORE]

That was about the worst-case scenario for the Atlanta Hawks, injury-free category. Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap were balling again in the first half, again putting the Pacers on their heels by holding the lead after both of the first two quarters. However, that all changed in the third quarter as Paul George and Indiana finally gave a glimpse of the team that we saw in the first half of the season. George’s buzzer-beating 30-foot 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter was a symbolic nail in the coffin for the Hawks, giving the Pacers a 14-point cushion heading into the fourth quarter.

Why was this the worst case scenario? It isn’t just the Pacers winning this game; it’s the way they did it. The Hawks had the lead for half of the game. To allow the Pacers to storm back and rout them could prove to be critical as the series shifts to the ATL.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Jeff Teague: Take note, Jeff Teague: the best defensive team in the league figured that its best strategy for limiting the Hawks was to stick one of the best perimeter defenders in the game in your path. Take that as a huge compliment. How did Teague respond? In the first half — and the first quarter in particular — Teague did exactly as he did in Game 1. He let his teammates open up lanes with their spacing, then he broke down the defense by getting into the lane. In the second half, Teague had less success, going 1-for-5 from the field as Indiana’s defensive unit clamped down and the Hawks started to miss their open shots. Overall, I still think Teague played well. 8/10

Paul Millsap: Like Teague, Millsap continued his great work from Game 1 into the first half of this game. He hit two 3-pointers, he had a couple of great takes to the basket, and he was getting to the line, all three of which are things that he is going to need to do for the Hawks to win this season. Unfortunately, also like Teague, Millsap could not get the mojo going in the second half, resulting in the Hawks losing the third quarter 31-13. 7.5/10

Kyle Korver: Korver went 1-for-5 in this game, which is something that the Hawks absolutely cannot afford for him to do. The Pacers did a good job as a whole of keeping Korver from getting open, so when Korver actually is able to get free, he’s got to connect. Hopefully the 1-for-5 night (and 3-for-12 start from 3 so far this postseason) proves to be an aberration. 5/10

DeMarre Carroll: With Paul George guarding Teague for most of the game, I thought DeMarre might be able to take advantage of having a combination of Lance Stephenson and George Hill on him. He and the team really couldn’t take advantage of this, however, and at least two of his five shot attempts on the night were extremely forced. I would be interested to see if the Hawks are able to adjust and try to open up for cutting space for DeMarre in Game 3. 9/10

Pero Antic: With how many open looks Pero is likely to get in this series, they are going to need him to do better than 2-for-9 from the floor and 1-for-5 from 3. He did good defensively, but this series quite literally depends on Pero’s ability to stretch the floor. 5/10 Continue Reading…

FINAL
Hawks lead series, 1-0

IND(0-1) 93 – 101 (1-0)ATL

Key Performers:
J. Teague (ATL): 28 pts, 5 ast, 3 reb
P. George (IND): 24 pts, 10 reb, 5 ast
[FULL BOX SCORE]

The Atlanta Hawks shocked the world Saturday night, defeating the Indiana Pacers to take a 1-0 lead in the Eastern Conference 1st round series and seize home court advantage. However, they did not shock certain bloggers who have watched the Pacers struggle for months. Indiana shows no signs of fixing its chemistry and continuity issues. The Hawks took advantage by executing the game plan everybody knew they would follow, spreading the floor with 3-point shooters and unleashing Jeff Teague on the Pacers’ weakened interior.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Jeff Teague: Jeff Teague has accepted his role, which is that of floor leader and offensive focal point. He doesn’t have to be a vocal leader or rah-rah guy in the locker room. The Hawks need him to lead with his actions on the court. Tonight, we saw Teague embrace that role and the results were simply stunning. Typical of Teague’s confidence throughout the game was this play, where he broke Evan Turner’s ankles with a crossover and calmly hit a step-back three. Teague also showed killer instinct, never letting off the gas until the job was finished. In scoring a career playoff-high 28 points with five assists, Teague was everything we knew he could be. 10/10

Paul Millsap: In my playoff preview, I talked about the Bad Boys 30-for-30 and discussed how Mark Aguirre sacrificed his offense while Dennis Rodman was thrust into a larger role than he was prepared for. Millsap, like Teague, has been asked to take on more responsibilities in the absence of Al Horford. Like Teague, Millsap has risen to the occasion. After being held to single digits by the Pacers on three occasions this season, Millsap went off for 25 points and 8 rebounds. Millsap is the sort of teammate that you have no doubt would sacrifice as Aguirre did if his team needed it. The Hawks needed the opposite, and Millsap brought it. 10/10

Kyle Korver: Also in the 5-on-5 preview, I discussed how important the Korver-Lance Stephenson match-up was. Stephenson scored 19 with seven rebounds while Korver scored only 12 with five rebounds. But Korver was plus-12 for the game while Stephenson was minus-8. Even though Korver shot only 5-for-12, including 2-for-7 on threes, his ever-present threat helped stretch the defense and open up the middle for Teague. On defense, Korver pulled his weight. 7/10

DeMarre Carroll: It’s hard to comprehend how undervalued Carroll was by the Utah Jazz before coming to the Hawks. Carroll was a game-best plus-15, scoring 12 points on four shots and adding 10 rebounds. His defensive assignment Paul George led the Pacers in every category, scoring 24 points with 10 rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocks. But Carroll made his presence felt, even flashing an escape dribble to create space for a jumper over George’s tight defense. 9/10

Pero Antic: The biggest concern for the Hawks heading into the game was, what if Pero has an off night shooting the ball? The Hawks were relying on Antic to draw Roy Hibbert away from the basket and he delivered, scoring eight points with seven rebounds on 3-for-7 shooting, including 2-for-5 from 3-point range. In the 3rd period, David West took exception to a foul and got in Antic’s face. Just like during the regular season when Carmelo Anthony jawed at Carroll, the Hawks used it as inspiration. Atlanta closed the 3rd on a 20-8 run and Indiana was never able to recover. 7/10 Continue Reading…