The Atlanta Hawks rolled to their fifth consecutive victory following their 109-97 triumph over the Houston Rockets. Michael Beasley — yes, Michael Beasley of all people — led all scorers with 30 points off of the Houston bench on the second night of their back-to-back sled. The Hawks, meanwhile, were led by Al Horford’s 22 points (on 10-of-19 shooting) and nine rebounds.
A five game winning streak can only mean one thing…
That’s right, for the first time since the very early stages of this season, the HaWWWWWks are back.
Dwight Howard and “Sticky-gate”
OK, OK. In all seriousness, this is the thing that people are actually talking about — and I guess this is what we’re calling it?
In case you missed it, Chris Vivlamore of the AJC reported that Dwight Howard applied stickum spray to his hands during last night’s game. Howard applied the spray during the the first quarter and C-Viv noted that can was wrapped in white tape to hide its contents. After Paul Millsap shot a free throw, Dwight touched the ball before returning it to the official, who returned the ball to Millsap. It was at this point that Millsap feels discomfort while holding the ball, as he was preparing to shoot his second free throw — the ball was covered in the substance that Dwight had applied to his hands.
“I’ve never felt the ball like that ever. It was sticky. It was like super glue or something was on there. I couldn’t get it off my hands. It was the weirdest thing ever. Unless (the league) could have felt the ball, they couldn’t get a good feel of what the ball felt like.” — Paul Millsap
I’ll let Chris Vivlamore take over (again, the article is linked above, a great job by C-Viv), because this next part is best explained by the man who saw the events transpire right before his eyes.
Official Monty McCutchen grabbed the ball and went to each bench to issue a warning, saying ‘Stickum is illegal in the NBA.’ After first going to the Hawks bench he made his way toward the Rockets bench. Rockets coach J.B. Bickerstaff slid in front of the can, still at the scorer’s table. McCutchen noted he knew what Bickerstaff was hiding.
No penalty was enforced. The can was then removed from the scorer’s table by a member of the Rockets’ staff. According to one person, the team did not produce the spray can when ask for it later by a league official.
“Stickum is illegal in the NBA”, “McCutchen noted he knew what Bickerstaff was hiding”, “According to one person, the team did not produce the spray can when asked for it later by a league official”.
Interesting, very interesting. Bickerstaff hiding the can, and the Rockets’ refusal to produce the spray can when asked for does not bode well for them in the review that the league has launched into the incident. Dwight Howard certainly did not help his case with his post game comments when asked about the incident (via the Houston Chronicle).
“I’ve been using it for the last five years. It hasn’t been a problem. I don’t know why people are making a big deal out of it. I do it every game. It’s not a big deal. I ain’t even tripping.” — Dwight Howard
For goodness sake, Dwight… Why would you say how long you’ve been using it for? That will not help your case. It’s a banned substance, so let me go ahead and reveal how long I’ve been illegally using it. Real nice job there, Dwight. Oh, and that’s such a Dwight thing to say about something that he should probably take a bit more seriously “I ain’t even tripping”.
No penalty was issued during the game, and the ball was removed from the game — I, affectionately, like to say that the ball was ejected.
Amazingly, this wasn’t the only ball to be removed from the game. Shortly after this incident, another ball got wet and was also removed from the game. I can’t remember one ball ever being removed from a game, let alone two…
Anyways, I can’t wait to find out the results of this review that the NBA is conducting. For now, just add this to long list of gongs from the 2015-16 Houston Rockets.
Fourth quarter shutout
After toing and froing in the third quarter — and the beginning of the fourth quarter — the Hawks eventually held the Rockets to just 14 points (on 6-of-20 shooting) in the final period. However, it wasn’t James Harden leading the charge for the Rockets — it was Michael Beasley, of all people. Beasley — who gave Houston every chance to try and win this game — scored, pretty much, all (12) of the Rockets’ fourth quarter points. The other two came from Montrezl Harrell in garbage time.
Beasley kept the Rockets within touching distance, but once the Hawks got consistent stops (allowing just four points in the final 4 minutes of the game) and made some big shots — that put the game beyond the reach of the Houston Rockets.
James Harden was held scoreless on 0-of-4 shooting, and was not a factor at all in the final period. This was due to Harden sustaining an injury in the third quarter — stepping on Thabo Sefolosha’s foot — and came up instantly limping. Harden would only play just under seven minutes in the fourth quarter.
“(The) explosiveness really wasn’t there. Just felt like a couple steps behind. It’s frustrating when you started getting into a groove. It’s hard to get into the paint, create shots for your teammates. It was tough.” — James Harden
“When we took him out to start the fourth quarter, I think it stiffened up on him a little bit. He tried to fight through it. He’s a gamer. He’s going to give it what he has. … He was trying.” — Coach J.B. Bickerstaff
Meanwhile, Coach Mike Budenholzer was happy with how his team started and ended the game (we’ll talk about the bit in the middle soon).
“I think the way we started the game and the way we finished the game defensively, a 16-point first quarter and most importantly a 14-point fourth quarter, I thought the guys were just great on that end of the court. I think it fueled a little bit of offense both in the first and fourth quarter. — Coach Mike Budenholzer
J.B. Bickerstaff was pretty quick to give up on this game. With his team trailing by 10 points with 1:35 remaining, he emptied his bench. I thought this was waving the white flag a little early — he could’ve dragged it out for a little longer and at least tried but, alas, he had decided that the game was up.
Houston’s 42 point second quarter
After leading the Rockets 30-16 after the first quarter, you would’ve been forgiven that the Hawks — given how they’re playing of late — would finish off a mediocre Rockets team by the third quarter. Right? Wrong. A 42 point second quarter by the Rockets gave them a halftime lead of four, and the game was very much on.
After committing zero turnovers in the first quarter, the Hawks committed nine in the second quarter. Those nine turnovers led to 17 points for the Houston Rockets. Michael Beasley (11 points in the second quarter) and James Harden (14 points in the second quarter) both found their rhythm, as the Hawks’ turnovers breathed new life into the Rockets.
This was, really, the only thing Mike Budenholzer didn’t like about this game — the rest of it he was pretty happy with.
“…Thirty-two assists. A lot of good stuff. In the second quarter the turnovers, we have to take better care of the ball. We had nine turnovers for 17 points in the second quarter. Obviously, we’d like to erase that quarter but the rest was very good.” — Coach Mike Budenholzer
Good follow up game for THJ
With Kent Bazemore returning from a one game absence, Tim Hardaway Jr. returned to Atlanta bench — but that didn’t stop him from having a significant imprint on this game. After his 21 point performance against the Nuggets on Thursday, Hardaway followed up with a 20 point display last night. Hardaway shot the ball very well last night — 7-of-11 shooting and 5-of-7 from behind the arc.
Coach Bud was, once again, full of praise for Hardaway.
“…Obviously, Tim Hardaway was great…”
“If he could play like this every night, we’ll take that. I won’t ‘We’ve got to get better’ on him tonight. In a weird way, I will. He’s doing it with a defensive mindset. He’s coming out and doing all the stuff he’s been doing, really, all year since he got back in the rotation. There is a confidence on his part. There is a confidence on our part that the offense would come. His focus is where it needs to be. He’s continuing to be great on the defensive end and now it’s becoming more natural, more comfortable. Hopefully, you see that manifest on the offensive end of the court.” — Coach Mike Budenholzer
Hardaway’s hard work is paying off, but he knows it doesn’t stop now.
“It feels good. The hard work is paying off right now. It doesn’t stop now. You have to keep going, keep pushing, all the way to the playoffs start. Hopefully, the season goes the way we plan on it finishing.” — Tim Hardaway Jr.
Over his last 10 games, Hardaway is averaging 8.1 points on 50% shooting, and scorching 50% from behind the arc.
2 more things you rarely see in an NBA game…
I mentioned that you barely see one game ball having to be removed, let alone two. But that wasn’t all for the strange occurrences at Philips Arena on Tinder Night 2.0 (which I have no opinion on, only that Bob Rathbun pretending to use it was hilarious)
Firstly, Kyle Korver DUNKED last night. Wow, I know right? Twitter, obviously, blew up when Korver threw down his first dunk of the season. Dennis Schröder described it (jokingly) as “a little weak”. Kyle’s response was pretty good.
Speaking of Schröder, he got called for an interrupted dribble with 52 seconds left in the second quarter — putting the ball to his hip as he dribbled. Now, I have never seen this called in my time watching NBA basketball. So, naturally, I was a little confused as to why the whistle was blown. You just don’t see it called very often at all.