The Atlanta Hawks trailed the New Orleans Pelicans for most of the night, but took control of the game in the fourth quarter en route to a 103-93 preseason victory. Without the service of a TV broadcast and spotty radio coverage, the game seemed to take place in complete anonymity. Dennis Schröder led the Hawks with 11 points off the bench and Kent Bazemore added 10 behind a 6-for-7 night at the line. He also had four steals, but his overall defense was lacking along with most of the first team. The Pelicans jumped out to double digits leads by the second quarter as the Hawks starters looked a step slow on the two ends of the court.
Kyle Korver and Jeff Teague both struggled to find a rhythm. Teague attacked the basket too recklessly, drawing the attention of multiple defenders who would swallow him under the rim, and Korver couldn’t find enough open space to shoot. Still, both were able to draw enough fouls with their aggression to finish with a combined 14 points on 11 shots, seven of those points coming from the stripe.
For the Pelicans, Anthony Davis is looking to put together an MVP season in 2015-16 and did nothing tonight to assuage those illusions. He had 20 points on 15 shots, showing great range in nailing two 3 pointers, as well as five rebounds and three blocks. Over and over, Tyreke Evans was a step faster than the Hawks defense in compiling 17 points on 15 shots, but only had two assists versus four turnovers.
Al Horford seemed to be experimenting with his range this game. Horford typically spots up at the elbow on pick and pops, but tonight he chose to drift out to beyond the three point line. He was uncovered on all three of his 3 point attempts, hitting two from the wing. It is possible that Al becomes the stretch 5 that the Hawks are searching to fill a better role than the one Pero Antic previously manned.
Also of note was the early use of a big lineup with Millsap at the SF alongside Horford and Tiago Splitter after the first substitution. Splitter showed some crafty moves in the post, drawing fouls and hitting on every one of his attempts for a final line of nine points and five rebounds. Paul Millsap has all the skills offensively to stretch the floor as a wing, even though he had a poor shooting performance tonight with just nine points on 12 shots.
The third team was the big story, as Tim Hardaway Jr., Terran Petteway, Walter Tavares and Mike Scott each were all at least plus-10 in +/-. Lamar Patterson also added a pair of threes on his only shot attempts of the game, making his case to secure the 15th spot on the roster. The Hawks recorded 10 assists on 11 field goals in the final period, a testament to the crisp ball movement by the end of the bench. The bench mob shot 11-for-17 (64.7%) and four of six from downtown.
There was also the 7’3″ elephant in the room. Every lob in Walter “Edy” Tavares’ direction drew oohs and ahhs from a Jacksonville crowd in Veterans Memorial Arena as he towered over his competition. Tavares fumbled a couple of dunks, an indication of his rawness, but Edy has the chance to be instant offense on his rolls to the basket if lobs are placed above the rim where only he can reach them. Tavares finished with eight points on five shots and six rebounds in just 11:24 of playing time.
Well into the third quarter, the team was shooting just 30 percent from the field, primarily stemming from missed shots at the rim. The Hawks hung in the game by drawing numerous fouls and going 26-for-36 (72.2%) from the stripe. Despite not recording a single assist in the first quarter, the Hawks finished with 21 assists on 33 field goals (63.6%).