On the second night of a back-to-back, without Dwight Howard and Thabo Sefolosha, the Hawks notched their six consecutive victory after they topped the Milwaukee Bucks 107-100 in Atlanta. Paul Millsap led the way with 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting while Jabari Parker scored 21 of his 23 points in the second half for the Bucks.
Decisive second quarter
The Hawks entered the second quarter trailing 26-21 and reeled off a 19-0 run to begin the second period in what proved to be a decisive run as the Hawks outscored the Bucks 31-9. The Bucks shot 3-of-28 in the period and faced an uphill battle the rest of the way.
“We couldn’t make the ball fall in the second quarter. We scored just nine points. It was hard to recover.” — Giannis Antetokounmpo
This run was sparked by the second unit and their energy was instrumental in reeling off the run and with Thabo Sefolosha sitting this one out, Taurean Prince finally got the opportunity to showcase what he’s all about.
Prince had the building rocking when he exploded to the rim for this dunk.
— HaWWWWWWks (@ATLHawks) November 17, 2016
Prince didn’t shoot the ball that well (0-of-3 from downtown) but his calling card isn’t his offense, it’s his defense and he was key during the Hawks’ 19-0 run when it came to getting stops. He does a great job here getting his hands up and stripping Jabari Parker as he’s driving toward the rim for an almost certain bucket.
And then Prince forces Super Cool Beas (Michael Beasley) to cough the ball up and it leads to an opportunity for THJ to push the pace and attack in transition.
And how about this to wrap it up? Prince drives toward the rim and dishes out this delightful pass, mid-air, to THJ who rises and knocks down the trifecta.
Prince finished with eight points, five rebounds, one assist, a steal and two blocks in 18 minutes of play.
“I thought Taurean was great. Just the physicality he plays with, the aggressiveness he plays with … he really gave us a big boost on both ends of the court.” — Coach Mike Budenholzer
We’ve talked about the bench a number of times this season and while only Tim Hardaway Jr. scored double digits off the bench last night, it was the bench unit that sent the Hawks on their way to a six consecutive victory with that 19-0 run.
“Our bench did a great job. They came in the game and really pushed the lead out for us. I think we held them to nine points. The defense was amazing. The second group came in and moved the basketball … we played how we’re supposed to play.” — Paul Millsap
Mike Muscala filling in
Mike Muscala got the starting nod at center last night in place of Dwight Howard and he performed well. He scored 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting and offered very solid interior defense in Dwight’s absence. In a season high 33 minutes played, Moose said he struggled at first but once he got his second wind that he was good, although his coach, while happy with Moose’s performance, was sure glad there wasn’t an overtime period…
“At the beginning, I was pretty winded. Once I caught my second wind, I was all right.” — Mike Muscala
“Muskie continues to play really well. It’s interesting for him to play (33) minutes. It’s a good thing the game ended at 48 (minutes). He gave us all he had.” — Coach Mike Budenholzer
When asked about his coach’s comments, with a smile:
“I’ll have to talk to coach. I’m alright. I don’t want him to think I’m too tired.” — Mike Muscala
Like I thought would happen to make up the rest of the center minutes, Kris Humphries did play around 15 minutes (14:48 to be exact) and Paul Millsap played a season high 38 minutes. Dwight’s status going forward is unknown. He has until Friday to recover, and something tells me Roy Hibbert might punish Moose a little more than Henson, Monroe and Plumlee did last night.
Cashing in at the free throw line
The Hawks took a whopping 26 fewer shots (72) than the Bucks (98) last night but were still able to prevail, largely thanks to the 27 points the Hawks scored at the free throw line. There wasn’t really one player who was getting to the line more than others (unlike your Harden’s in Houston and DeRozan’s in Toronto), everyone was able to not only get to the free throw line but also convert: Dennis Schröder, Paul Millsap, Taurean Prince and Tim Hardaway all made four free throws each while Mike Muscala and Dennis Schröder knocked three free throws down themselves.
The Hawks had been shooting 68.2% from the free throw line prior to this game (ranking 29th in the league) and, of course, the one game where the Hawks’ worst free throw shooter, Dwight, doesn’t play they shoot 87% from the line. Coincidence? Hmm…
Kyle Korver’s shooting struggles
The highlights from this game most likely included this deep three from Kyle Korver:
What even is range? pic.twitter.com/cmVKAkwSw3
— HaWWWWWWks (@ATLHawks) November 17, 2016
But the truth is Korver has been struggling behind the arc of late. After shooting 3-of-8 against Philly, 0-of-2 against Miami and 2-of-7 last night, Korver has shot 3-for-17 from behind the arc in his last three games. It has been a struggle, but hopefully this deep three will give Kyle a little more confidence going forward. Olivia Harlan on the sideline noted last night that Korver was really staring at the rim during timeouts as if to wonder what on earth was going on. And it’s not like he has taken bad shots, they just haven’t been falling.
Money well spent, or nah?
Just a note about the Bucks… They missed a great opportunity to topple Atlanta while they were without their best interior defender in Dwight, and their best perimeter defender in Sefolosha. We know Mike Muscala to be a good defender these days but for other teams, that’s a much better matchup than Dwight Howard, and the Bucks did not take advantage. Their collection of bigs did not make much of an impact in this game, the impact they should’ve in Dwight’s absence. Starting center John Henson played just nine minutes in the second half while Greg Monroe and Miles Plumlee didn’t play at all in the second quarter having both featured in the Hawks’ 31-9 demolition in the second quarter and played poorly.
The Bucks were able to turn this into a ball game, cutting the lead to three points in the fourth quarter having trailed by as many as 24 points, and deploying Mirza Teletovich at center was an important factor behind that comeback. Teletovich was such a great signing for the Bucks, but I’m going to say it’s bad when he’s your best option at center and not any of your three centers — Monroe, Plumlee and Henson — who collectively earn over $41 million a season.
I found myself flip-flopping constantly throughout this game over which center the Bucks should be using at that moment. I thought Greg Monroe would’ve been a good option to take advantage of the more inexperienced Muscala in the post, but Monroe offers so little defense that he would just give all of that back. He just doesn’t really try. Example:
Monroe could’ve definitely have challenged THJ a little more if he had hurried himself/showed any sense of urgency.
The Hawks made all five of their shots in the restricted area in the second quarter, as they ran away from the Bucks, and as they were doing that I thought “why isn’t John Henson in here instead of Monroe and Plumlee?”. But Henson just has no offensive game that I can really tell and that’s a problem on a night when Giannis is made into a jump shooter/can’t finish at the rim, when Jabari can’t get many shot opportunities (which would change in the second half), when Tony Snell is really struggling from outside, when Rashad Vaughn can’t hit anything, when Jason Terry and Michael Beasley literally do nothing and when Matthew Dellavedova and Malcolm Brogdon are also struggling with their shot.
Eventually the Bucks found an option at center that worked, and it’s a guy that isn’t even a center…
We can all agree that in this market $10 million a year for three years for Teletovich is money well spent, but $17 million for Greg Monroe, 4 years $50 million for Miles Plumlee and John Henson for 4 years $44 million? Maybe not so much… Maybe Henson individually, but not in addition to all three of those guys…
The Hawks (9-2) will travel to Charlotte ahead of Friday night’s showdown with Kemba Walker and the Hornets in what will be a big test for this Hawks team. The status of Dwight and Thabo are unknown at this stage.
Game stats: NBA.com
Hawks quotes: AJC via Chris Vivlamore
More Hawks quotes: Peachtree Hoops via Tyler Duke
Bucks quotes: Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel via Charles F. Gardener