In their first of four meetings with this season the Hawks defeated the Charlotte Hornets 97-94 without the services of Kyle Korver. Atlanta fended off the Hornets late run in a game that was tied on seven occasions along with 17 lead changes. Kent Bazemore may not be the sharpshooter Kyle is, but looked pretty close shooting 4-for-5 from 3-point land tying his career high in field goals made. Kent Finished with 19 points (seven coming in the fourth quarter) and nine rebounds. Coach Mike Budenholzer spoke about his confidence.
“You could just feel his confidence from the very beginning of the game, the way he was rising up and shooting with no hesitation. The ball was coming off his hand just really easily and nice. He got a couple of drives and finishes. The drive and the put back late, Kent on his drive forces the help which allows Paul to get the put back.”
This tough defensive matchup is something both became accustomed to last season and again tonight as they struggled to ever find a rhythm. The hornets held the hawks to just 42% from the field and six turnovers in the first half. In the second half the Hawks turned up the pressure in their rotations ,particularly in the third quarter, forcing seven turnovers leading to 10 points and a seven point lead heading into the fourth.
Dennis Schröder got an early Christmas wish and was inserted in the lineup alongside Jeff Teague for the first time in their careers. Schröder and Teague combined to score 28 points along with six assist and showing great effort defensively forcing Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin into three turnovers apiece. Many probably wondered how their styles would mesh offensively, but Coach Bud was more focused on the other side of the floor.
“The key is if we can guard and we can get stops on the other end and we can rebound on the other end, then I think offensively we won’t have too much trouble. For more of the game I thought our defense was pretty good, and that included when Jeff and Dennis were in there. I think overall it was good to see them play so much together.”
Horford and Millsap always play well together and did so again tonight as Horford scored 18 points (seven in the fourth quarter) with six of those points coming from beyond the arc for the second straight game and a RPM of +12. Paul Millsap posted his second double of the season with 19 points, 10 rebounds and also showed his range going 2-for-4 from three.
These two teams have a quick turn around and meet each other again Sunday in Charlotte, tip off at 2:00pm