Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks suffered their third defeat succession, falling to the New Orleans Pelicans at Philips Arena in spectacular fashion last night, 112-94. The Hawks were absolutely blown out of the water by the Pels, who were ready to ball from the off. They shot the ball well, they played some good defense and did most of their good work without Anthony Davis. The Hawks looked unprepared, didn’t play with effort didn’t play great defense and deserved to lose by at least 25 points. At the end of the game, Hawks color commentator Dominique Wilkins put it very well when he said “You’d like to say it was a valiant effort, but the effort wasn’t there all night long”.

Decisive first quarter

The Pelicans took control of this game very early on and they never looked back, outscoring the Hawks 34-14 in the opening frame while shooting 63% from the field and 57% from behind the arc as they powered to their best victory of the season.

Sure, they hit some tough shots and caught fire in that first quarter, but the Hawks could’ve done a much better job with their own offense. They shot 26% from the field and 9% from three in the first quarter, and I think a lot of this has to fall on the floor general, the point guard: Dennis Schröder. The point guard is supposed to facilitate/run the offense. With the system the Hawks run, there’s a little less emphasis on Schröder to do this the whole time, but he still has to run the system and he didn’t do that in the first quarter, and beyond.

The Hawks were trailing early and needed to get into their offense, get into some sort of flow. What’s a good way to do that? Oh yea, just jack up a three with 19 seconds of shot clock left.

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After losing two straight over the weekend to the Charlotte Hornets and New York Knicks due to lack of energy, the Hawks returned home Tuesday night duplicating the same effort in a 112-94 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. The worst loss of their season entailed trailing by 35 at one point, Anthony Davis scoring just 13 points, lack of ball movement and plenty of head hanging. This game out of the three felt different, especially on a night rapper Gucci Mane brought so much energy and enthusiasm to Philips Arena with his highly anticipated halftime performance; the Hawks looked lifeless.

Their top-ranked defense looked out of sorts and uninspired, which attributed to the Pelicans shooting their second-highest field goal percentage of the season.

“They were too comfortable, they were too free, they had a lot of open looks,” said Coach Budenholzer postgame. “We couldn’t get to their shooters or contain the ball. 112 points total, 34, 32, 39 [first three quarter Pelican point total] that’s just way too many points, that’s not good enough defense.”

In the Budenholzer-era, this team has consistently been one of the best defenses the league has to offer; Hawks opponents are fully aware they will have to earn their points the hard way. The hardest part of the night for the New Orleans players looked like tying their shoes and putting on the jerseys.

Not only did they take it to the Hawks, but also guys like Tim Frazier and E’twaun Moore penetrated through Atlanta’s defense without a second thought. One of the founding principles of this defense is to make nothing easy in the paint, contest everything. The Hawks didn’t do that on Tuesday night and the Pelicans’ ball movement — 319 passes made — gave the Hawks a bit of their own medicine.

“They just played great basketball from the beginning to the end,” said Dwight Howard. “The moved the ball, the ball didn’t stick at all. They did a good job of finding the open man and attacking the gaps.”

Now after the most embarrassing loss of the season, this team looks ahead to a tough five game road trip starting with the Indiana Pacers and ending with the new look Golden State Warriors. This type of loss might of came at the right time, early enough to send a message and refocus, not too late enough to panic. That focus will be tested on their first lengthy road trip of the season, especially since they are shooting worse (45.2-percent) and accumulating less assists (22.5 per game) away from home in six games this season.

In an 82 game season, losing streaks say more about a team than the contrary, particularly for a squad with title aspirations like the Hawks. How they respond in Indiana Wednesday night will more than likely set the tone for the remainder of the trip, but also give insight into how mentally tough they are at this point.

“I think this will be good for us,” said Howard. “We need this early test because it will make us stronger. I think we will come out of all of this, a really good situation. We have to take it one game at a time; it’s going to be a tough trip.”

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Atlanta Hawks dropped their second game in a row, succumbing to a 104-94 loss at the hands of the New York Knicks at MSG. Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 19 points while Dwight Howard scored 18 points and pulled down 18 boards.

‘Mix and match’ uni’s return

Oh hey, the Hawks are doing this again: mixing and matching their road and alternate jerseys on road games on Sunday’s. How do you feel about these? Personally, I don’t mind this variation. It’s the black jersey with the red shorts that is a little too much for me…

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

No answer for Carmelo Anthony 

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Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

On the second night of a back-to-back, without Dwight Howard and Thabo Sefolosha, the Hawks notched their six consecutive victory after they topped the Milwaukee Bucks 107-100 in Atlanta. Paul Millsap led the way with 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting while Jabari Parker scored 21 of his 23 points in the second half for the Bucks.

Decisive second quarter

The Hawks entered the second quarter trailing 26-21 and reeled off a 19-0 run to begin the second period in what proved to be a decisive run as the Hawks outscored the Bucks 31-9. The Bucks shot 3-of-28 in the period and faced an uphill battle the rest of the way.

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“We couldn’t make the ball fall in the second quarter. We scored just nine points. It was hard to recover.” — Giannis Antetokounmpo

This run was sparked by the second unit and their energy was instrumental in reeling off the run and with Thabo Sefolosha sitting this one out, Taurean Prince finally got the opportunity to showcase what he’s all about.

Prince had the building rocking when he exploded to the rim for this dunk.

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The second night of a back-to-back game usually requires much more production from a bench. The Hawks bench, currently ranked fifth in bench scoring, has been one of the league’s best thus far. In their sixth straight victory they defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 107-100 without the services of Dwight Howard (quad) and Thabo Sefolosha (knee). The starters appeared sluggish and out of sync in the first quarter, shooting just 35 percent from the field, prompting Coach Budenholzer to quickly turn to his backups.

The Hawks began the second quarter trailing 26-21 until a SportsCenter top-10 dunk along the baseline by rookie Taurean Prince jumpstarted a 19-0 run.

“I thought Tauren was great,” Budenholzer said postgame. “Just the physicality he plays with, the aggressiveness he plays with, really gave us a big boost on both ends of the court.”

“That was really nice,” said Mike Muscala of Prince’s dunk. “I was pretty surprised, I did not see that coming. He’s going to be a really good player.”

Picked 12th in this year’s draft, many may have been expecting more appearances this season from Prince. However, with a veteran like Sefolosha that Bud can trust and the sharp shooting Tim Hardaway Jr has displayed, Prince has been forced to remain patient, but ready. He was just that on Wednesday night, logging eight points, five rebounds and two blocks in 19 minutes of action.

“In my opinion the best teacher is experience,” Prince said. ” For me to get out there with the guys. We put in a lot of hard work behind the scenes that people don’t see. I am ready for the opportunity, whatever opportunity I can continue to get, I will continue to take advantage of it.”

The opportunities will be fed to Prince gradually as the season progresses under a Budenholzer that has a tendency to keep young wings on a short leash. Tim Hardaway Jr and Kent Bazemore both are examples of what happens when a organization takes time in laying out a program that makes a concerted effort to truly deduce — to a science — a player’s strengths and weaknesses, along with what steps need to be taken in order for him to maximize his talent.

“Just another testament of the Atlanta Hawks player development system,” said Bazemore on Prince’s play on Wednesday night. “A guy works hard every day and when he gets his name called he’s ready. That’s one of his [Taurean] greatest attributes is he’s fearless, he’s out there chirping, hitting people, finishing above the rim and that’s his game. It’s good when you can get a young fella this early in his career and be that confident.”

Confidence is what got him to the league — it’s part of what drew the Hawks to him and it’s also how he will gain minutes going further. The untapped potential he possesses, along with his high tenacity level, is a coach’s dream, especially to a true teacher of the game like Budenholzer. Prince, like any other rookie, is still grasping schemes, counters and what making the right play at this level entails, but if Wednesday night is any indication, his ascension has only just hit its genesis.

His dunk is a must see, a show stopper and one of the most exciting plays the Hawks have executed this year. But that alone won’t keep him on the floor — playing the Hawks’ brand of basketball will.

“Anybody that comes into our team you kind of have to learn how we play, said Korver. Its not about just having talent and attacking the basket, there’s a method to the madness. He’s got a lot of natural ability and talent. For him, I told him at half time his best play was when he drove to the basket and whipped it to Tim for the shot. I told him that was your best play, not the big awesome dunk that you had, which was incredible. He’s just got to keep feeling how we play and I think that is a great play to go back and review.”

 

Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty Images

Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks made it five wins in a row following their latest conquest over the shorthanded Miami Heat — who were without Goran Dragić and Justise Winslow — with a 93-90 road victory. The Hawks were led by Dennis Schröder’s team high 18 points while the Miami Heat were led by Tyler Johnson’s game high 19 points and Hassan Whiteside’s 19 points, 25 rebounds performance, the most rebounds in a game by any player in the league so far this season (as well as a season high 10 offensive rebounds).

Dwight Howard’s injury: last night and going forward

The Hawks got the win but the big news from Miami was that Dwight Howard injured his left quad and sat out of the fourth quarter. Speaking after the game:

“It’s super tight right now. Really painful. I wanted to come back out there but they said it wasn’t worth it this early in the season. There is a lot of pain. We are going to get treatment tonight, get treatment in the morning and see how it feels.” — Dwight Howard

Howard sustained the injury when he banged into Hassan Whiteside late in the third quarter. Coach Bud said that the Hawks would be “aggressive” when it came to treating the injury (since the Hawks play again later today at home to Milwaukee) and Dwight is officially listed as “questionable” for tonight’s game.

Dwight had been doing a good job defensively on Whiteside, but his absence meant that the Hawks had their hands full trying to deal with Whiteside in the fourth quarter. They struggled initially but Paul Millsap decided he wanted to guard Hassan as the Hawks’ center in crunch time.

“Usually whenever Paul asks for something, he gets it.” — Coach Mike Budenholzer

Millsap took up that position with just under four minutes remaining in the game. Whiteside had grabbed five rebounds (three of them offensive) in the fourth quarter up to that point, how many did he secure in crunch time after Paul checked in at center? One.

“I feel like I can cause him some problems. I can get to his body, get low, keep him out of the paint. If he catches it, use my hands to disturb him. The few times he got it, I was able to deflect it.” — Paul Millsap

Yes, with those “f***ing amazing hands” Millsap’s hands can indeed cause problems… But it’s worth pointing out that Whiteside (on the second night of a back-to-back) was pretty gassed by this stage of the game and I’m sure it did contribute.

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Post-election discussions have been rampent all over the NBA following Tuesday’s presidential race outcome. Athletes and coaches of all races and backgrounds voiced their support and displeasure on what looks to be one of the most divisive political campaigns this country has ever seen.

The Atlanta Hawks are a part of a city so densely cosmopolitan that to avoid the outcry of protesters would be as hard as Donald Trump not using the word huge.  After facing the Philadelphia 76ers Saturday night, they faced questions about the commander-in-chief-to-be.

“I think everybody was surprised by it because a lot of the polls didn’t show that,” Ryan Kelly said. “But for me personally, I look at it and say he’s going to be the President and that is a position I think we should respect. People aren’t perfect and hopefully he can be a better man now that he’s in office”

The hope for a large portion of the country that voted against Trump is for just some sort of rehabilitation will take place. His message resonated with enough individuals that were begging for some sort of drastic change, no matter the messenger and how the message offended several minority groups.

But even then, it seems that the league has taken a binary stance. In a league of such diversity of background — a league that employs six women in team vice presidential roles, two women as assistant coaches and, of course, its bevy of black and international players — there is no doubt how the NBA sees the results of the election. In fact, Commissioner Adam Silver has already sent a league-wide email reinforcing the NBA’s commitment to equality and diversity.

Thabo Sefolosha, born in Switzerland, seemed puzzled by the final result that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but lost the election.

“I cannot vote, but It was very entertaining nonetheless to watch.” Sefolosha said. “Of course I had an opinion, it’s the votes of the American people that have been heard, but it was just weird to see Hillary Clinton received more votes than Donald Trump [and lose].”

The results of the popular vote are contributing to the anger that some feel towards a democracy system our leaders boast is the most fair to live under.  So when Americans deem a political or social issue to be un-American, they take to the streets to display just how disgusted they are.  American history is flooded with protest for all sorts of causes, whether police conduct, civil, gay or immigration rights. However, never have we seen protest permeate across the country in response to the outcome of Presidential election like we have seen in these past few days. These protests have spawn an excitement for activism and at the same time brought into the question  the efficacy of the same very protests.

“I don’t think those protesters should be happening,” Sefolosha said.. “You have the right to vote and if you didn’t vote and the person you wanted to get elected didn’t get elected, well that’s too bad. The results are a reflection of the country, it’s a democracy, the way the country is run; so if everybody has the right to vote they should have been more vocal before instead of rioting afterwards.”

According to electproject.org, just 56.9 percent of eligible voters actually casted a ballot, a decrease from 58.6 percent in 2012. This election, like all elections, felt more pivotal than the last; but that still wasn’t enough to garner the attention of those who feel that their vote wouldn’t make a difference or that whoever takes office won’t uphold promises. Colin Kaepernick, who is protesting the system in which the United States governs under, has spoken out extensively on his decision not to vote and received much backlash.  Many are choosing to eradicate his previous efforts because of his decision, while others like Ryan Kelly and Thabo Sefolosha believe it falls right in line with his stance.

“I think his message is still relevant, in a sense that he wants to see change and that’s part of the change,” Kelly said.  “This has been in the media for a while, something we saw publicly and it’s a huge part of our lives. There is no problem with showing that you feel that where we are as a country isn’t where we need to be and Regardless of whose president most people can say that.”

“I think that not voting is pretty much in line with what he believes,” Sefolosha said. “He is making a stand by taking a knee during the anthem. He is trying to keep people aware of a problem that has been happening in America.”

Now, whether or not you agree with Kaepernick and the many others decision to sit out, the outcome still remains — Donald Trump is the 45th president of the United States. Discussions about putting personal feelings to the side during his presidency are just as prominent across the country and all of the media. Charles Barkley and Oprah Winfrey, who some feel represent a small portion of how majority of minorities truly feel, each have conveyed optimism for Trump.

Add the Hawks’ starting small forward, Kent Bazemore, to that list.

“I am excited man,” Bazemore said. “Something new, obviously the rest of society hasn’t taken it well with all of the protest and riots. “But I think people all across the country are sick and tired of how things have always been and that’s why you get a guy like him in office to shake things up a bit.  Make America great again is his slogan and as a President we should stand behind him. I am all for change, never been afraid of change — Barack Obama said he has a shifting confidence in Trump. Like Oprah said, I think everybody can take a deep breathe now.

“You know I was reading a post the other day, talking about how Trump is what America is. I think that we should all come together during a time like this. Some people are scared of change, but I am not, let’s do it, let’s see what he’s got because that’s all you can do is stand behind him. For a man like him to be talked about as negatively as he has all his life and still assume position of power says a lot about him and his resilience and as a leader that’s what you want.”

There is no need to further analyze how and why we arrived here, now at this time this country must remain steadfast in stressing the importance of acceptance of all the groups that currently feel that they will receive harsh treatment under his regime. Hate groups all throughout the country feel emboldened to act out in ways that reek of yesteryear. The only way to combat that is every individual take on the responsibility to do so, that’s the way it is and has always been.

LeBron James, one of the most socially outspoken athletes in today’s sports world, expressed a message of hope, positivity and faith to women, youth and minorities on Instagram. A message to uplift those who felt as though they would have no say in their aspirations and dreams. Those who strongly believe the character of an elected political official is a reflection of the environment they will have to endure each and every day.

Kent Bazemore, and Lebron James don’t buy into that, they both believe the power that each individual possess is far greater than any President.

“The President doesn’t really dictate a lot for individuals,” Bazemore said. “I feel like you can make whatever out of your life you want if you get up and work hard everyday, the world is yours.There is nothing he (Trump) can do to hold you back as an individual, so us as citizens need to be more consciousness of the impact we have as individuals and strive for greatness every day.”

Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks stretched their winning streak to four games with a 117-96 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, who were without Joel Embiid (rest). Dwight Howard recorded another double-double (guess we should just get used to that) with 10 points and 11 rebounds while Jahlil Okafor led the Sixers with 18 points.

Another great bench performance

For the second game in a row the Hawks’ bench put in a great performance — 54 points led by Tim Hardaway’s game high of 20.

“It was a good win. The bench continues to be very, very big for us. A lot of different guys played well. It’s good going into a big week next week.” — Coach Mike Budenholzer

Speaking after the Hawks’ win over the Bulls, Thabo Sefolosha said “…Different nights, different guys step up” and that rung true again last night. THJ added 20 but perhaps the surprise of last night was Kris Humphries adding 13 off the bench. Malcolm Delaney added another nine points and six assists.

“Tim had an incredible game, but he wasn’t the only one. Kris Humphries as well. We’re rolling right now. We’ll try to keep it up. We wanted to play a little bit better from start to finished but we had some spurts where we really played well, played together and executed on defense and offense.” — Thabo Sefolosha

I had concerns about this bench at the start of the season but they’ve been great so far. And look, take this with a grain of salt, these are the Sixers and they still suck, but even still it’s good to see the bench getting things done.

“I just feel like we have a lot of guys who are playing well right now, a lot of guys playing with a lot of confidence. They are mixing and matching well. They are sharing the ball well. I think to have that, if you want to call it a wave, different guys making plays that’s what it takes for us to be good.” — Coach Mike Budenholzer

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