Hawks vs. Suns — Things of Note

Graham Chapple —  March 29, 2017

The Atlanta Hawks snapped their seven game losing streak against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night at Philips Arena. The Suns were led by T.J. Warren’s 24 points while Tyler Ulis added a double-double, 15 points and 10 assists. 

Standings watch

The Hawks remain in control of the 5-seed but remain in a tie with the Milwaukee Bucks, who defeated the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday night. Elsewhere, the Indiana Pacers lost crucial ground, falling to a narrow defeat at home to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Losing streak snapped, taking care of business

It’s been a long time coming but the Hawks finally returned to winning ways having lost seven on the bounce. Although, it’s no more than what should’ve been expected. 

The Suns were without Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, Devin Booker, Tyson Chandler, Leandro Barbosa and Dragan Bender. As such, the Hawks — shorthanded as they were — were certainly expected to win this game and they took care of business like they were supposed to behind a strong first quarter where the Hawks outscored the Suns 27-12.

“Obviously we needed a win so I was really pleased with the way the guys came out in the first quarter. The aggressiveness, the competitiveness, the togetherness. Obviously it gave us the cushion we needed to get through the rest of the night”

— Coach Mike Budenholzer

The Suns showed good fight in this game, overcoming an 18 point lead and even taking a seven point lead in the fourth quarter before the Hawks — behind two big three-pointers from Dennis Schroder — reeled off an 8-0 to re-take the lead.

“I needed to hit some. They were shifting a lot off or me. I saw an opportunity to shoot it. I just took it with confidence. I’m glad I made them.”

— Dennis Schröder

In the end, the Hawks did what they needed to do. Should the game have been as close as it was? Probably not but given how desperately the Hawks have needed a win, it doesn’t matter how it comes or how poorly the Hawks may or may not have played. They got the win they needed to stop the rot. Now it’s time to build on it, starting later tonight in Philadelphia.

“It was definitely great to get a win but we have to keep it going. We know our capabilities, we are not settling with just this win.”

— Taurean Prince

Dennis’ mixed night

Dennis Schröder led the Hawks with 27 points on 12-of-27 shooting while also dishing out nine assists in 39 minutes of play.

Dennis did a good job getting to the rim and exploiting the lack of shot blocking yet, despite this, I can’t sit here and say Dennis had a good game. Yes, he led the team in scoring and, yes, he hit some big shots in the fourth quarter but he had a very incomplete game.

While he dished out nine assists, Dennis committed eight turnovers, including this absolute blunder.

None of Dennis’ other seven turnovers were as careless as this but he did have some poor turnovers, and eight total turnovers is way too many turnovers.

Dennis also tried to take matters in his hands a little too much. Yes, in the absence of Paul Millsap and on a night when THJ doesn’t have it going, you’d like Dennis to be aggressive but you want him to take decent shots. Not like these:

Here, Dennis tries to do everything on his own when he would’ve been better off either using this Dwight screen or finding the rolling Dwight. Instead he goes crashing into the paint and Jared Dudley and commits an offensive foul.

One example of a few instances where Dennis took a contested three-pointer without much — if any — ball movement.

Like, the defender is right there in his face. Not sure why Dennis jacked up a three in this instance, a bad, bad shot. One of Dennis’ six three-point misses (2-of-8). In total, 27 shots?? 27?? That’s very excessive even in this circumstances.

Coach Bud had an interesting comment regarding Jose Calderon:

“The ball moves a little bit more when he’s out there. We run more stuff when he’s out there. I think that’s when we are at our best. He’s figured that out individually and how he’s impacted the game for the whole group has been a huge positive.”

— Coach Mike Budenholzer

“The ball moves a little bit more when he’s out there. We run more stuff when he’s out there. I think that’s when we are at our best…” Am I reading too much into that? In Bud’s mind, does Dennis not do these things? Very interesting comment.

This wasn’t a bad game by Dennis, he did get to the rim at will and did lead the team in scoring but it just wasn’t a great game from Dennis, again, 27 shots and eight turnovers aren’t ideal.

THJ’s rough night

There are two players whose offense the Hawks have needed desperately since Paul Millsap and Kent Bazemore went down: Dennis Schröder and Tim Hardaway Jr. Timmy…did not have a great game last night, two points on 1-of-9 shooting from the field.

Only nine shots? Very un-THJ like. He just looked a little off, wasn’t looking for his shot and didn’t look like the aggressive. Every shooter has these kind of nights, though, if the Hawks had lost this game, this would’ve been a huge focus postgame.

That said, I did like this one defensive possession THJ was involved in. In transition, Dennis picks up the much larger Jared Dudley while THJ is on Derrick Jones Jr. THJ gets his head up, sees the mismatch and orchestrates the switch, shouting at Dennis to switch with him.

It’s just good to see THJ reading the defense, seeing what’s around him, identifying an issue and solves the problem.

TP continues to shine

With Thabo Sefolosha, again, missing out through injury, Taurean Prince continued as the starting small forward and he followed up his 17 point game with another strong game – 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field. But, again, it wasn’t TP’s scoring that stood out but his defense.

TP continues to impress with his ability to block shots and he added another two last night.

One of Marquese Chriss:

And this monster spike on Jones Jr.

TP also did a good job contesting shots.

“Another good effort (from Taurean Prince). His ability to attack, get to the basket and finish. Defensively, he does things that make it difficult on the opponent. I’d love for him to rebound a little bit more, get a few more loose balls. But he’s learning a lot. This is a great opportunity for him.”

— Coach Mike Budenholzer

Like Bud said, TP’s ability to get the rim is one of his strengths and that’s reflective in his shot chart.

Prince’s first step is nice and quick and his long strides help him make quick bursts toward the rim.

TP is making the most of his opportunity and it looks as though he’ll continue to receive the opportunities with Sefolosha looking like he’s going to be out for the short term future.

“…The more that’s given to somebody, the more responsibility you have. So I just have to take advantage of it and continue to get better like he wants me too.”

— Taurean Prince

Better bench effort

I’ve ripped the Hawks’ bench for playing poorly so it’s only fair that I praise them when they do well… A much better game from the Hawks’ bench. They scored 18 points (the Suns’ bench scored 20 points) and, more importantly, everyone chipped in. Seven points from Kris Humphries, six from Jose Calderon, three points from Mike Dunleavy and two fro Mike Muscala.

When the second unit came in, the Suns didn’t just run away or immediately takeoff on a 12-4 run or something, they held the fort and left the game in a, shall we say, presentable condition when the starters returned.

Up next

The Hawks (38-36) are back in action later tonight against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Game stats: NBA.com
Hawks quotes: The AJC via Chris Vivlamore
More Hawks quotes: Peachtree Hoops via Kris Willis

Graham Chapple