Hawks Swat Down Hornets in OT

Bo Churney —  October 21, 2014

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.

One concerning factor with these past two games is how the Hawks have played when Horford leaves the floor. (I’m not including Chicago’s comeback against the Hawks’ third team on Thursday) Horford, who played well against both teams, is a combined plus-37 in the two games. Of course, the Hawks lost by four to the Pistons on Saturday and only beat the Hornets by three points on Monday. So what’s the problem? The biggest issue is that Pero Antic and Elton Brand, along with the other four starters with which Horford has usually been playing with, have not kept a consistent defensive effort after Horford leaves. After playing well sans-Horford last year, the lineups of the Hawks’ regular four starters plus Antic or Brand have not played inspiring basketball recently.

A positive that cancels out this negative his how well Horford is playing. Again, Horford’s touch on his shot was not there, but his impact on defense continues to be enormous. If you add on the Chicago game to the plus-minus stat in the above paragraph, Horford is plus-49 in 61 minutes over the last three preseason games.

Another spark was the play of Dennis Schröder, who received a lot of playing time with the starters.

That is the best way to sum up Schröder’s play in this game. Playing with the starters probably helped, but Schröder was able to maintain decisive control of the offense for most of the game and was making great decisions. Dennis remarked after the game that his “confidence is through the roof”, which hopefully leads to more buckets on drives and jumpers.

Back to the problem side, the Hawks are shooting just 34.4% from 3 in the preseason. The biggest offenders have been Paul Millsap, who played great against Charlotte, and DeMarre Carroll. After the two former Jazz-men both broke out refined 3-point games in the 2013-14 season, the two are a combined 4-for-26 on 3-pointers in the preseason. There often is not a lot that can be taken out of preseason stats due to the small sample size, but it’s something that is worth noting.

The Hawks have one more preseason game left on the schedule and it is Wednesday at 8PM ET in San Antonio. They will then open the regular season the following Wednesday in Toronto.

Bo Churney

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