Jeff Teague and the Atlanta Hawks fought valiantly in their 126-115 loss against the Toronto Raptors. Teague scored 24 points on 7-for-14 shooting. He also dished out 12 assists. But he also had to guard Kyle Lowry, who had 13 assists to go along with 14 points.
On a night where the Hawks had five players in double digits, they lost to a now 13-2 Raptors team that had seven guys in double digits. It felt like an 80’s Western Conference game on Wednesday night. Games like this while being a learning tool for the Hawks should also be a sign that East is no longer the sisters of the poor.
“I keep telling people our conference isn’t soft, we have some of the best point guards in the league” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “Tonight is another example; we had a great game offensively because of our movement, but so did they.” “Thankfully we were able to score a few more points, but we can win like this every night.”
The Hawks have improved a lot since their season opening loss to the Raptors. Al Horford has especially shown lots of improvement since that game. He scored 23 points on 11-for-16 shooting and corralled nine rebounds to accompany four assists.
“I always want to win, but it felt good to contribute.” Horford said. “I felt like myself for one of the first times this year, I have more work to do but I felt good out there.”
This game did show the Hawks offense at its best but it also showed the defense at their worst. Mike Budenholzer made it clear the team would have to improve immensely in order to beat good teams.
“We moved the ball well on offense, but we gave up 126 points, I’m not happy and we will fix it.” Budenholzer.
One of the Hawks biggest issues against the Raptors was their inability to play defense without fouling, The Raptors got to the free throw line 33 times and hit 28 of them. In order to have any success this season the Hawks will have to improve in this area.
“We have to learn how to get spots earlier, show our hands and pay attention.” Budenholzer said. “When your attention to detail is off in anyway against a team like Toronto you give up 33 free throw attempts.” “They’re an aggressive team, who knows how to draw contact and forces the refs to make a call.”
All in all the Hawks have shown they have the talent to compete with any team in the NBA. Kyle Korver scored 19 points on 6-for-9 shooting. Dennis Schröder continues to be a problem for opposing teams scoring 13 points and only missing one shot from the field. As a team the Hawks shot 51.2% from the field.
There are positives to take away, but in order for the Hawks to do more than compete they’ll have to fix their defense. Several players said they were up to the challenge after the loss. We’ll find out how true that is as the seasons winds on.