The Atlanta Hawks dropped their latest contest at Philips Arena against the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday night, 103-91. The Hawks were led by Tim Hardaway Jr.’s 18 points.
The Hawks are in a race with the Toronto Raptors for home court advantage but were unable to capitalise on the Raptors’ home loss against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night. The gap between the Hawks and Raptors remains at 2 games.
Third quarter struggles
This game was decided in the third quarter, a quarter the Hawks were outscored by the Grizzlies 23-13. The Hawks shot 3-of-17 from the field while the Grizzlies shot 10-of-23.
“It just felt like one of those nights We couldn’t catch the ball. We couldn’t shoot it. We couldn’t pass it. We just have an off night with a lot of credit to Memphis. They are into us. They were physical. They got more 50-50 balls than we did. It wasn’t our night.”
— Coach Mike Budenholzer
You have to give a lot of credit to Memphis for Atlanta’s third quarter struggles. Their defense was dialled up a notch and they seemed to pack the paint a little more in the third quarter, forcing the Hawks into tougher jump shots rather than shots in the paint.
This is the Hawks’ third quarter shot chart:
Not a lot of shots near the rim/in the paint and a lot more perimeter shots. Again, a lot of credit to Memphis for putting the Hawks in that situation. Tony Allen in particular was fantastic.
“Our defense was really stellar tonight against a great offensive team and a great offensive coach. We were really consistent with executing our coverage and doing it with great effort.”
— Coach David Fizdale
A great offensive team? Ha-ha.
Anyways, after this difficult third quarter the Hawks were playing catchup the rest of the way and, in the end, it was too much. Having lost at home against the Hawks last week, the Hawks should’ve been ready for a revenge game. They weren’t.
“We knew they were going to come out with that mentality. They were dogs on both ends of the floor. We just backed down, I feel like, as a team, as a whole. We didn’t block out. We didn’t make our shots. A lot of our shots were in and out. We didn’t force them into tough baskets at all. Not the Hawks’ way.”
— Tim Hardaway Jr.
No one — bar Taurean Prince — really played well for the Hawks and their leading scorer couldn’t impact the game. Dennis Schröder scored 10 points on 4-of-16 shooting, Paul Millsap scored 10 points on 3-of-9 shooting.
“They were just being more aggressive. Taking us out of our offense in the second half. I think our defense was pretty good. Offensively we could’ve been a lot better.”
“We should have come out more aggressive knowing that they were going to come out more aggressive. We just didn’t do that.”
— Paul Millsap
Dwight’s weakness exposed again
Dwight Howard struggles in match-ups where the opposing center can hit perimeter shots. Marc Gasol is one such player and, just like his brother Pau, he punished Dwight for not sticking tight enough to him.
Gasol was active early in this game — scoring 11 first quarter points — and following a timeout in the first quarter, an adjustment was made. Paul Millsap was assigned the defensive match-up of guarding Gasol, who subsequently missed his first two shots when guarded by Paul.
But it wasn’t just Gasol who gave Dwight problems. The man that Dwight was switched onto, JaMychal Green, can also stretch the floor.
Not the greatest hustle shown here by Dwight.
Time and time again, Green and Gasol punished Dwight from the outside.
Dwight was lucky this wide open Gasol shot didn’t go down.
Nice pump-fake from Green here to get Dwight off his feet.
It’s tough to say whether the Hawks would’ve won this game had Dwight stuck tighter to his man. It’s also easy to think — since the Hawks are 6-1 when Dwight isn’t in the lineup and won the game in Memphis by 17 with Dwight out of the lineup — that the Hawks would’ve won this game if Dwight wasn’t in the lineup but it’s just hard to say whether there’s anything to that. Memphis played an awful lot better in this game and out-scrapped the Hawks.
Points off turnovers key
The Grizzlies’ defense made the Hawks’ life difficult on the offensive end but they made sure to punish the Hawks on the defensive end for their turnovers. Off of Atlanta’s 17 turnovers, the Grizz scored 26 points. Tony Allen and Mike Conley were responsible for 10 of those 26 turnover points.
Atlanta, in contrast, scored just seven points off of Memphis’ 11 turnovers.
Marc Gasol notched his third career triple double with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
Gasol, however, was unimpressed.
“It’s only three, buddy. It’s not like 23.”
— Marc Gasol
Funny guy, Marc Gasol, who also had this crazy shot waved off.
it didn't count but this is ridiculous. pic.twitter.com/VhRUAV8Qta
— Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) March 17, 2017
Shame this didn’t count, it was a great shot.
Anyways, a great game for Marc Gasol, who definitely took advantage of a favorable match-up in Dwight Howard.
TP’s big night
Taurean Prince was the one bright spark from this game. Prince scored 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting and came up with a career-high 4 blocks, this one on Zach Randolph being one of them.
Not this time Z-Bo – @taureanprince
— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) March 17, 2017
Prince seems to enjoy playing against the Grizzlies. He set his career-high of 17 against the Grizzlies last week when the two sides met in Memphis. Prince’s development continues to look very solid indeed.
Strange lineup choices
There were some…interesting lineup choices from Bud in this game. In a game where the Hawks are struggling offensively, Bud rolled out the non-point guard lineup on multiple occasions and continued to roll with José Calderón in place of Malcolm Delaney. Calderón, once again, went scoreless in 18 minutes of play.
It’s time for the Calderón experiment to end. He’s not scoring enough to warrant playing over Delaney, who will at least play good defense even if he isn’t scoring in bunches.
Thabo Sefolosha, strangely, only played 17 minutes in this game and score just two points on 2-of-2 from the free throw line.
Another night, another missed opportunity at the free throw line.
The Hawks shot 25-of-34 from the line, but this time it wasn’t so much Dwight missing, like, eight free throws. Everyone was missing free throws. Kent Bazemore, 8-of-10. Paul Millsap, 4-of-6. Dwight Howard, 4-of-6. Ersan Ilyasova, 1-of-2…everyone was missing free throws here and there.
The Hawks (37-31) will remain in Atlanta and will take on the Portland Trail Blazers at Philips Arena on Saturday.