While the start of Atlanta’s season has been fairly strong, stronger than last year’s 7-6 prelude to the franchise’s first 60 win season, there are a few notable areas for improvement. The most glaring of that group has to be rebounding, which helped foil the Hawks’ attempts to reach the NBA Finals just a few months ago and is currently foiling their endeavors to retain the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

Most attribute the Hawks’ struggles in this area to a lack of size on the roster but it has become clear that most of the blame falls squarely on the overall scheme of the team. It matters less the stature of the players and more how hard the players crash the glass.

The below is a table of the Hawks’ rebounding performance in every year since coach Mike Budenholzer has taken the helm. I’ve listed the league finish in each rebounding percentage estimate via Basketball Reference.

OReb% DReb%
2013-14 28th 17th
2014-15 30th 22nd
2015-16 28th 29th

In fairness, in every year of Larry Drew’s tenure from 2010 to 2013 his teams finished in the bottom five of offensive rebounding percentage, but those teams were above average on the other end of the floor in each of those three seasons. The trend under the current regime is discouraging, nonetheless. Continue Reading…

Paul Millsap missed a baseline 10-footer as the clock expired and the Hawks fell to 8-4 with a 97-96 loss to the Jazz at Philips arena. Millsap contributed a Herculean effort with 28 points, six rebounds and two blocks but fell short of carrying the Hawks to a win.

“Paul got a great look,” said Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer after the game. “We’ll take that kind of look any time. The execution down the stretch was good so I think that’s a positive.”

Millsap got two of his points on this dunk off a beautiful, thread-the-needle pass from Kyle Korver. Continue Reading…

Another Hawks comeback fell short as Atlanta rallied from 15 down on the road against the Boston Celtics only to come up short again in a 106-93 loss. Mike Mucala’s free throw drew the Hawks within 86-83 with 6:43 to play before Isaiah Thomas (game highs with 23 points and 10 assists) hit back-to-back 3-pointers to stifle the Atlanta rally.

Kent Bazemore’s 3-footer drew the Hawks within three again (96-93) with three minutes to play but Amir Johnson (19 points, eight rebounds, four assists three steals and three blocks) responded with a layup and added a 15-foot jumper as the Celtics closed on a 10-0 run. Jared Sullinger added a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics while Jae Crowder added 13 points, eight rebounds and four steals. Kelly Olynyk added 15 points, three rebounds and two blocks off the bench.

The Hawks’ starters were outplayed throughout. Al Horford (13 points, six rebounds, eight assists and two blocks) was minus-4 and was the only starter without a double-digit negative plus-minus. The other starters ranged from Jeff Teague’s minus-13 to Kyle Korver’s minus-18. Paul Millsap led the Hawks in points (14) and rebounds (eight) but committed six turnovers. Continue Reading…

Following Wednesday’s win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Philips Arena, HawksHoop locker room liaison Kacy Sager was granted an exclusive interview with Atlanta Hawks assistant coach Darvin Ham. I’m pleased to present the interview in its entirety. — BG

Kacy Sager: One player who has endeared himself to this fan base is Kent Bazemore. Why has he been playing so well at the start of the season?

Darvin Ham: Well, preparation goes a long way. You see him finally get healthy. He was coming off of injury when we first signed him. To see the process of him getting his body 100% healthy, and then taking advantage of the summer, getting his feet wet out there a little bit last year, playing some meaningful minutes in meaningful games I think just inspired and propelled him into what was a great summer.

He’s a great fit. He’s a multi-faceted player. He plays really hard on both sides of the ball. He brings a lot of dynamic tools and talents on the defensive end and now his offense is starting to catch up with his defensive game. He had a great summer working with our coaches, working with coach Ben Sullivan with his shooting, Kenny Atkinson with his pick-and-roll game, myself with different things finishing around the rim. To me he’s what our team represents: the enthusiasm, the passion, the willingness to do the little things to hopefully turn those into big, big accomplishments. Continue Reading…

After three and a half tightly contested quarters in which neither the Hawks nor the short-handed Pelicans were able to pull away, Mike Muscala assisted Paul Millsap on a cutting layup that began a 6-0 run for Atlanta. Alvin Gentry called a timeout for New Orleans after Jeff Teague’s driving floater with 5:10 left to play. But the 93-85 cushion was enough for the Hawks to withstand Eric Gordon’s heroics as they improved to 8-2 with the 106-98 victory at Philips Arena.

Atlanta got off to a slow start, something that has been an unsettling trend in this young season. The injury-plagued Pelicans (who have already been without Norris Cole, Tyreke Evans, and Quincy Pondexter all season) entered tonight’s game without Anthony Davis after he bruised his hip the night before against Dallas. They were still able to outplay the Hawks for most of the half. There were eight lead changes and seven ties in the first quarter and New Orleans went up 26-24 on a goal-tending call against Thabo Sefolosha (Ish Smith was credited with the basket). Atlanta wouldn’t take the lead again until midway through the third quarter.

The Pelicans’ 56-47 advantage at halftime was largely due to outstanding shooting from behind the arc. Three of their starters were 2-for-3 (Luke Babbitt, Gordon and Smith; Ryan Anderson made two of his four attempts) and the team as a whole shot 61% (11-for-18). Al Horford kept the Hawks in the game with 20 first-half points and Millsap had 9 rebounds during that span. Coach Bud made a point of addressing his team’s inability to match the Pelicans’ early intensity during his postgame press conference:

A lot of credit [goes] to New Orleans coming in on a back-to-back without Anthony Davis and all the injuries they’re dealing with. They had us definitely on our heels. I think we’ve got to play a lot better coming out to start games and not put ourselves in that kind of hole.

Continue Reading…

The Hawks erased a 34 point deficit to take a 107-106 lead over the Timberwolves with 3:33 to play on a Paul Millsap driving layup, but failed to score again in Monday night’s 117-107 loss at Philips Arena. Andrew Wiggins scored seven straight (on a career-high tying 33 point night) and Minnesota ended the game on an 11-0 run, dashing Atlanta’s hopes of pulling off the third-largest comeback in NBA history. The Hawks dropped to 7-2 and fell to second in the Eastern Conference behind the 6-1 Cavaliers, while Minnesota improved to 4-2.

The first half was about as ugly as it gets, with Tiago Splitter’s minus-3 a team best. Minnesota absolutely dismantled Atlanta’s defense, shooting 64% from the field (50% on 3-pointers) and doubling the Hawks’ 11 boards. The Timberwolves outscored Atlanta in the paint 36-20, 10-0 on second chance points and 21-2 on fast break points and the Hawks went to the locker room down 72-42.

Coach Mike Budenholzer let the starters begin the third quarter in hopes of chipping away at the 30 point deficit. Asked if he gave a big speech at halftime, Coach Bud said he simply made the decision to give the starting unit an opportunity to make a game of it in the third quarter.

“I told the guys lets give it five or eight minutes,” said Budenholzer. “Let’s see what happens. Different things happen in our league.” Continue Reading…

Kent Bazemore scored a career-high 25 points, pushing the Atlanta Hawks to their seventh straight win over the Washington Wizards 114-99 at Philips Arena. His catch-and-shoot three with 3:35 to play against Bradley Beal’s late defense put the Hawks up 103-94.

“Its good to see the ball to go in because maybe eight to 10 months ago that may not have been the case,” said a smiling Bazemore in the postgame locker room.

The confidence the team has in Bazemore and he has in himself is obvious as Kent is now shooting 50% from three, placing him at fifth in the league for 3-point percentage. Coach Mike Budenholzer credits both the team’s playmaking and Bazemore’s ability to attack the rim, which keeps defenses guessing.

“I think he’s getting a lot of good rhythm shots, he’s getting a lot of opportunities,” said Budenholzer during the postgame media availability. “Hopefully we’re creating a lot of pressure on the paint, creating a lot of pressure on the rim. And he can do that too. I think the great thing is, obviously he’s making shots but he can attack and break the defense down and finish also. Obviously he had a very good game.” Continue Reading…

John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend), the co-editor of TrueHoop Wizards blog Truth About It, asked me to chip in for a preview of tonight’s Hawks-Wizards match-up at Philips Arena. “Ask me the questions, Bridgekeeper, I am not afraid,” declared I. Townsend asked for my thoughts on last night’s win in New Orleans, and I primarily attributed it to Kyle Korver’s breakout game:

Korver is off to a slow start from 3-point range after a summer lost to rehab from two separate surgeries. Korver entered the Pelicans game having shot just 5-for-20 (25%) on 3-point attempts for the season. He has somewhat made up for it by adding a dribble-drive and midrange pull-up to his game, frequently using the glass. In New Orleans, Korver may have turned the corner, tying Paul Millsap for the team lead with 22 points on eight shots including 4-for-4 from distance and a game-high plus-16.

But why waste time here? You can read the whole Hawks-Wizards preview over at Truth About It.

After the Hawks surrendered a 17 point lead late in the fourth quarter, Kyle Korver hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 3:28 to play to help Atlanta (6-1) to a 121-115 win over the Pelicans in New Orleans, the team’s sixth straight victory. Korver followed up his three with a steal of Jrue Holiday’s bad pass, which led to a Jeff Teague layup and a 113-108 Hawks lead. The Pelicans tumbled to 0-5 despite a monstrous performance from Anthony Davis, who scored 43-point with 10 rebounds, three assists, four steals, three blocks and only a single turnover.

Korver entered the game shooting just 5-for-20 (25%) from 3-point range for the season. After matching Paul Millsap’s team-high 22 points on 8-for-8 shooting, including 4-for-4 from three, Korver lifted his 3-point shooting to 37.5%. Korver added seven rebounds, five assists (including this lovely dish to Justin Holiday for a second-quarter dunk), three steals, a block and zero turnovers with a game-high plus-16. Millsap added a game-high 12 rebounds and the Hawks moved into first place in the Eastern Conference after the Raptors fell to the Orlando Magic.

Teague scored 19 points with seven assists. Al Horford (shown here slamming home a bucket off a Dennis Schröder dime) added 14 points with four rebounds and two blocks. Kent Bazemore added 10 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals as all five Hawks starters scored in double figures. Continue Reading…

Jesse Itzler is an interesting character. As a younger man, he bluffed his way into a record contract and released an album as the rapper Jesse Jaymes. His album reached 74 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1991 and he ended up performing on MTV’s Spring Break with a video in rotation while playing shows and making friends with industry heavyweights such as RUN DMC.

Itzler later used those connections to help him found Marquis Jet, a company that sells ticket cards for private jets to individuals who want access to the convenience and luxury of a private jet without the expense of partnering to own and maintain a jet. When an initial meeting was unsuccessful, Itzler brought his friends from the music industry to a second meeting to convince the owner of a fleet of private jets that there was a market for the service Itzler was proposing.

After years sharing a tiny one-bedroom apartment in New York and rapping about a lifestyle he hadn’t yet obtained, Itzler made it. He would later marry another self-made entrepreneur, Sara Blakely, who founded the billion dollar Spanx shapewear empire from her Atlanta apartment. Together, the couple joined principal owners Tony Ressler and wife Jami Gertz to buy the Atlanta Hawks over the summer.

But even with all of the success, Itzler continues to make a habit of making interesting friends, pushing limits and breaking down barriers. When Itzler, an ultra marathoner, saw a Navy SEAL running a 24 hour team marathon BY HIMSELF, Itzler did what he does: he got the SEAL’s phone number and made friends. Continue Reading…