The Atlanta Hawks extended their winning streak to a season best seven games after blowing out the Brooklyn Nets 117-97 at Barclays Center. Brook Lopez led the way for the Nets with 20 points.
End of the road (trip)
I know I’ve used that line before, so I apologise. Not really. Anyways, last night’s game in Brooklyn capped off a very successful four game road trip for the Hawks in which they won all four games against Orlando, New Orleans, Dallas and Brooklyn.
Of course it’s worth noting all of those teams are below .500 but you still have to take care of business and the Hawks did so, something they didn’t do on their last lengthy road trip, losing to the Suns and the Lakers.
Last night was the first time the Hawks were matched against the Nets and Kenny Atkinson, who was an assistant coach under Coach Bud before leaving last summer to fill the Brooklyn Nets’ head coach vacancy. There was nothing but love for Coach Atkinson both pregame — but most notably post game — where coaches and players alike greeted him with hugs.
No Bud-Wave for Kenny but a Bud-Hug. You love to see that respect and love for a former colleague. Very heart warming.
Coach Bud spoke postgame about Kenny and how he feels for him, given the current situation he and the Nets are in (the Nets are now 8-29 and do not own their draft pick this season):
“You feel a little bit for Kenny tonight. They are trying to build something here. The wins are a little bit hard to come by. You know how hard he’s working and how hard his players are working. It’s hard. I care so much for him. I want good for him. It is a little hard.” — Coach Mike Budenholzer
You do have to feel for Kenny. Even though he knew what he was getting into, it’s tough to see any coach go through the season the Nets are going through. Take this play for example. Kenny knows that there’s a lob from Paul Millsap to Dwight Howard coming, tries to make Luis Scola aware but the lob is executed anyways and Kenny is left frustrated on the bench.
Dennis Schröder, who would’ve worked a lot with Kenny, spoke postgame about Kenny, describing having to face his former coach as “weird”:
“Everybody is happy for him. It’s still kind of weird playing against him, seeing him coach everybody, getting his technical. I’m proud of him that he made that step.” — Dennis Schröder
The good news is that the Nets’ front office is now being run by Sean Marks, who learned his craft with the Spurs (A.K.A a competent franchise), so Kenny is going to have plenty of time to implement what he has learned under Bud with his young team as Marks assembles a new team.
Aggressive Kris Humphries
Kris Humphries played a very good game last night. 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting, eight rebounds, two assists and a steal in 16 minutes of play. Eight of those points came in just under four minutes of play in the second quarter, including this amazing ‘And-1’ play in transition:
Yeah! Run that fastbreak, Hump! Like a horse at the Grand National…
But Humphries didn’t just contribute offensively but defensively too. He was very aggressive in his pick-and-roll defense, extending pressure to the ball handler and to excellent effect here in the second quarter against Spencer Dinwiddie, who was forced to call a timeout on this possession.
Another example from Q2: Hump extends pressure on Caris LeVert, putting him under pressure to make a play.
“… Kris Humphries got aggressive in that second quarter. He’s got a little bit of freedom to turn it up. Some of those plays look like they were traps or blitzes. But that’s Kris taking an initiative and being aggressive.” — Coach Mike Budenholzer
If Kris can perform as he did last night — and while Tiago Splitter and Mike Scott still aren’t playing/100% — he should definitely see some minutes as a backup big. And he doesn’t have to play 20 minutes a night. As we saw last night, he was very effective in short doses. It was against a lowly Nets team, to be fair, but give Hump credit where it’s due. He played well last night.
Balanced effort and bench boost
It was another good night in terms of production across the roster. Six players scored in double digits while the bench scored 54 points, led by Kris Humphries’ 13 points and Malcolm Delaney’s 12 points.
I love Paul Millsap going for 32 points as much as anyone else but it’s always much better when multiple guys produce on the same night and that was the case here: Another 19 points for Dennis, 14 points for Dwight and Paul (who eventually got going in the fourth quarter having struggled in the first three), and 10 points for Thabo Sefolosha to go along with the bench scoring.
I thought the standout scorer last night was Malcolm Delaney, who shot 5-of-6 from the field on his way to 12 points. All of the shots Delaney made last night were from mid-range or beyond. That mid-range jump shot is the best part of Delaney’s offensive game and he is shooting 48% from mid-range for the season so far. For reference, his overall field goal percentage is 39%. He is money from mid-range and it was good to see that shot go down regularly last night because I believe Malcolm’s shooting percentages do not reflect fairly on him — he has been a great shooter everywhere he has played. Way to go, Malcolm.
Leaving the easy ones at the line…
The Hawks left a lot of points at the free throw line last night… 22-of-38 from the free throw line were the Hawks. And it wasn’t just Dwight (who had his worst night at the free throw line in a while shooting 2-of-8), everyone missed free throws here and there. Paul Millsap briefly spoke about it postgame:
“We get to the free-throw line. We could do a better job there.” — Paul Millsap
The Hawks were fortunate that this didn’t come back to bite them but it’s the second time in recent memory that the Hawks have left easy points at the line, which is a tad concerning.
Well, at least to me…
Dennis’ great game
I haven’t spoken much about Dennis Schröder, who did score a team high 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting and 2-of-4 from three, continuing his run of fantastic form. But the scoring and shooting numbers were not the most impressive numbers from Dennis’ game last night: 10 assists, zero turnovers. For a guard who is prone to turn the ball over at times (though he has improved greatly in this aspect as the season has progressed) that is fantastic. Heck, it’s fantastic for any guard.
Great game, Dennis.
Another fantastic overhead pass
For the second game in a row a Hawk produced a sublime overhead pass, this time courtesy of Thabo Sefolosha who saves the ball from going out of bounds and finds Kent Bazemore for his only field goal of the game with this overhead pass.
What a find. Who did it better, Thabo or Malcolm?
Dwight be trolling
Poor Jeremy Lin, just wanted to dap up his ex-teammate and friend Dwight Howard…
“It was just me and Jeremy having fun, lightening the mood, having a good time, enjoying the game. This is why we play, right?” — Dwight Howard
The crowd immediately booed Dwight afterwards for this move but I think even they acknowledged that this was pretty funny. I hate dabs, and I normally don’t address them, but this was pretty funny.
The Hawks (22-16) return to Atlanta ahead of Friday’s massive matchup against Al Horford and the Boston Celtics, Horford’s first game against the Hawks following his departure from Atlanta after nine seasons with the Hawks. What a game that should be.