Hawks vs. Pacers — Things of Note

Graham Chapple —  March 5, 2017 — 1 Comment

Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks dropped another game in their six game home stand, this time a last second winner from Glen Robinson III pushing the Pacers over the finish line 97-96 on Sunday afternoon. Paul George led the Pacers with a game-high 34 points. For the Hawks, they were led by Paul Millsap’s 23 points and Tim Hardaway Jr.’s 24 points.

Keys plays down the stretch cost Atlanta

Let’s get this straight…the Hawks did not deserve to win this game. They were very poor in the second and third quarters and, really, had no business winning this game. The Hawks also conceded another 15 three-pointers and allowed Paul George to go for 34 points in the first three quarters. They played that poorly. That being said…they should have won this game.

The last minute and what transpired in it proved to be decisive but, first, some backstory…

Paul Millsap hits a huge shot to put the Hawks up 96-90 with 1:43 remaining in the fourth quarter, forcing the Pacers into a timeout. Out of the timeout, Jeff Teague hits a lovely floater that trims the Hawk lead to four points with 1:38 remaining. The Hawks are still in a good position, leading by two possessions with just over a minute and a half remaining and with possession of the ball. After a Paul Millsap miss, Kent Bazemore secures a huge offensive rebound and the Hawks call a timeout with 1:10 remaining. After a switch that puts Teague on Millsap, Paul drives toward the rim and Jeff comes up with a huge defensive play and takes the ball away.

This was a huge defensive stop for the Pacers. Though they still need to score to make this a one possession game, they’ve prevented the Hawks from potentially ending this game — a six point lead with under a minute remaining would’ve been a very tall mountain for the Pacers to climb.

Teague brings the ball up and there’s confusion for the Pacers on the offensive end. After some scrambling from both teams, the ball eventually ends up in the hands of Paul George, who takes a contested three-pointer that misses. However, C.J. Miles is there to collect the offensive rebound and score underneath the basket.

Not much Dennis Schröder can do in this situation, Miles is always going to win that battle underneath the basket. Could Dwight or Millsap have helped more here? This was such a huge basket for the Pacers, I actually believe this was more important than the game winner. It meant that the Pacers did not have to intentionally foul should the Hawks — who would’ve taken the clock below 24 seconds — miss their next shot, since this was now a two-point game rather than a four-point game.

Speaking of the Hawks’ next shot… Oh boy, oh…boy. Dennis brings the ball up the floor and it seems as though Darvin Ham calls for the ball to go to Tim Hardaway Jr., which I think surprises Dennis — he certainly didn’t seem delighted to give the ball up to THJ. THJ, now handling the ball with the clock winding down, uses the Dwight Howard screen and goes right. Glen Robinson III does a great fighting over the screen and is able to stick with THJ and Myles Turner can just check Dwight’s roll. This is a failed pick-and-roll, and now Timmy — with about four seconds left — chucks up a three that barely draws iron.

Bad execution from the Hawks here. If this was a call from the bench, it was not a good decision. If this was ‘Hero Ball’ from THJ, it was a horrible decision…

The rebound is picked up by Teague, who races down the court and puts the Hawks in a difficult decision. Teague hands the ball off to PG13, who drives toward the rim and four Hawks find themselves in the paint to try and stop him. George kicks the ball out to, I believe, C.J. Miles, who passes the ball to GRIII, who knocks down the game-winner with 0.6 left.

I think you could tell, based on his reaction, that THJ was reflecting on the shot he missed and, I’m sure, realised that he really screwed up.

“The transition defense is something we talk about. Guys are scrambling. … Paul George drives the ball and Dennis is over there with two-on-one situation. We have two guys running down the middle of the floor. We have to communicate in that situation. I know it’s loud, the building is loud and going crazy, but we work on last man going weak side. Last man weak side to take away 3-point shooters. We didn’t do that. There you have it.”

— Coach Darvin Ham

Postgame, Paul George said that his assistant coaches told him to kick the ball out weak side, since they knew he was going to collapse the defense at the rim:

“I got a chance to talk to the assistant (coaches). My past possessions having the ball, that’s how they guarded me. (The coaches) were just telling me ‘You’re going to attract two (defenders). Just look weak side. I see C.J. and Glenn. Dennis Schroder had to make a decision with two shooters over there.”

— Paul George

The Hawks couldn’t make magic happen with .6 left and the Pacers emerged Philips Arena with a one point win, ending the game on a 7-0 run.

Disappointing.”

— Paul Millsap

The Hawks didn’t deserve to win this game but they should’ve won it. Some good defense by Indiana, a horrible shot by THJ and a great decision not to call a timeout with the game clock winding down that allowed PG to collapse the defense and find a wide open teammate for the game winner carried the Pacers to victory. Very tough loss for the Hawks to take, who lamented their poor second and third quarters. In the second quarter, the Hawks shot 7-of-21 (33%) and shot 6-of-15 (40%) in the third quarter.

“At the end of the day, there was a lot of fight that we let pass us by in the second and third quarters. Not being able to get things done offensively. Lack of ball movement.”

Coach Darvin Ham

“The game is played in four quarters and two of those quarters we didn’t show up.”

— Paul Millsap

Jeff Teague’s return to Atlanta

This was Jeff Teague’s first — and only — regular season visit to Atlanta this season since he was traded from the Hawks to the Indiana Pacers last summer. Teague was shown a video tribute before the second quarter.

Teague said that he felt “a lot better” once the tribute was shown and appreciated the kind reception.

Teague finished with 16 points and six assists.

The Hawks are 0-3 this season when — notable — former players have come to Philips Arena this season. The Hawks lost against Al Horford and the Celtics in early January, lost when Kyle Korver returned with the Cavaliers on Friday and again tonight.

No coach Bud

Coach Mike Budenholzer did not make an appearance at Philips Arena for this game, serving a one game suspension for bumping an official during the Cleveland game on Friday. Assistant coach Darvin Ham was in charge for this one, which was a nice break since this game was his scout anyways. Unfortunately, for all the reasons mentioned above, he wasn’t able to come away with a victory for coach Bud.

Speaking of which…I wonder how Bud felt about that THJ shot while sitting on his couch watching this game. I’d imagine it was something close to this:

I could imagine it (amazing GIF, by the way)…

More free throw problems

This is really beginning to rear its ugly head… It was another bad day for free throws…for both teams. It won’t matter as much for the Pacers since they’re the team that won but it’s really bad for the Hawks because this has been an issue for a while now and it really cost them big this time. The Hawks shot 19-of-31 from the line on Sunday, 61%. For the season, the Hawks rank 29th in free throw percentage, making 72.4% of their free throws. Only the Miami Heat (69.8%) shoot worse than the Hawks at the line…

“The free-throw line, we work on those every day.”

— Coach Darvin Ham

Looks like the Hawks will be shooting more free throws in practice in the near future…

This decline in free throw percentage is quite amazing. Last season, the Hawks ranked 8th overall in free throw percentage with 78%. Yes, Dwight Howard doesn’t help but he’s not the sole reason for this decline…

Issues guarding Paul George

Paul George had himself a field day in Atlanta. By the end of the first half he had scored 24 of the Pacers’ 50 points, something Paul Millsap was not happy about at the half.

By the end of the third quarter, PG had 34 points and, during the fourth quarter, Paul Millsap and the Hawks made a change. Paul asked to guard PG. PG went scoreless in the fourth quarter on 0-of-3 shooting, Sefolosha also pitching in.

“It was something I asked to do. Just to put a little more pressure on him. Get a more physical guy on him. See how he reacts to that. Fourth quarter we did a good job of shutting him down.”

— Paul Millsap

Of course, as you could imagine when dealing with a player who scored 24 first half points, adjustments on George had already begun to be made:

“Before (putting Millsap on him) we wanted to put pressure on him in the second half, blitz him. He got rid of the ball and they were able to make some plays on the weak side. We changed up the matchup putting Paul on him. Paul got after him a little bit. We decided make Dwight our (most important help guy), baseline help guy have him guard Thaddeus Young and try to funnel everyone toward him. We made it a point to get him off the 3-point line. The combination of all those things allowed us to hold him to (10 second-half) points.”

— Coach Darvin Ham

The fact that Paul asked to guard George helps me love him even more. Just to embrace that kind of challenge… And he — along with Thabo — did a great job in the fourth quarter. Of course, Millsap has experience this season with this sort of thing, guarding the extremely hot Carmelo Anthony in the fourth quarter and doing a great job defending Melo in early January, the 4OT game.

Up next:

Well, the Hawks (34-28) don’t have long to feel bad about this game. On Monday night, the Golden State Warriors roll into Philips Arena…

Game stats: NBA.com
Hawks quotes: The AJC via Chris Vivlamore
Pacers quotes: Indy Star via Nate Taylor

Graham Chapple

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