RECAP: Nets 91, Hawks 86

David Vertsberger —  January 7, 2014


BKN.gif(13-21) 91 – 86 (18-17)ATL

Key Performers:
J. Johnson (BKN): 23 pts, 4 ast
P. Millsap (ATL): 16 pts, 4 reb, 5 ast

The Hawks had a severe lack of Al Horford tonight en route to a 91-86 loss on the road to the Brooklyn Nets. While there were some bright spots, the Hawks being unable to Al Horford in this game truly cost them. Although the score ended up being close, Atlanta was never really in reach because of Al Horford-less basketball, a factor they’ve desperately needed in their past six games.

Alright, enough of that. The Nets came out small but lanky with Pierce at the 4, Garnett at the 5 and Shaun Livingston starting in place of the injured Deron Williams. Their defense was surprisingly energetic and effective thanks to a hard-hedging and trapping strategy that I’ve yet to see them play with for 48 full minutes like they did on this night. It worked, as the Hawks struggled making the extra pass and scoring one-on-one, finishing with just 86 points on 38.6% shooting from the field and 18 turnovers – a lot of them unforced and rather dumbfounding. Despite all this it was a tight game most of the way – thanks to Brooklyn being pretty bad – but a 14-0 start to the second half by the Nets gave them the lead and Joe Johnson doing Joe Johnson things in the fourth quarter the game.

Reaction grades [assessed 0-10]:

Paul Millsap: On paper, Millsap had far from a good game. As many turnovers as collected rebounds, 16 points on 4-12 shooting and a team-worst -12 to top it off. Unpleasant to say the least, but this game was a product of a game-long mismatch issue. Millsap was stuck having to guard Paul Pierce or Joe Johnson practically all night thanks to Brooklyn’s small scheme, possibly wearing him out on the other end. Signs seem to point to fatigue as this is Millsap’s third straight putrid shooting night, likely an effect of having to man the offense all to himself. 3.5/10

DeMarre Carroll: Carroll had a usual Carroll night, guarding the opponent’s best wing scorer and cutting all over the place. He did a decent enough job on Joe Johnson in some stretches, less than so in others, but overall a solid game. He finished with 10 points and 7 boards on 4-9 shooting from the field. 7/10

Pero Antic: The Nets gave Pero plenty of space on the perimeter, and he made them pay by canning 2-5 threes from long range. Every other aspect of his game was thoroughly underwhelming however. He didn’t seem to have a lot of energy, only grabbing 3 boards and moving slower than an Atlantic Ave. traffic jam. He managed to pick up 5 fouls in just 18 minutes with some rotations that were far from crisp, and really struggled to find the seams that Horford did in his position. Comparing the two wouldn’t be fair to Antic, but nonetheless a bad game by his standards. 2/10

Jeff Teague: Shaun Livingston’s length and the Nets’ P&R traps stifled the air out of Teague’s lungs, making for a performance to forget for Jeff. He shot 5-15 from the floor and committed 7 turnovers to 5 assists, most of the giveaways just at the fault of horrible IQ. As much as he’s improved this season, Teague has a ways to go before solidifying his place as an All-Star point guard. This isn’t the first game where he’s looked lost and out of control this season, but hopefully it will be the last. Sheesh/10

Kyle Korver: Not only did Korver hit number 104 tonight, but he was Atlanta’s renaissance man. His scoring output was shy but he collected 7 rebounds and dished out 6 dimes, putting his entire repertoire on display. In response, he ended up playing a team-high 37 minutes – all of which valuable to the team’s efforts, even when he struggled to find his shots. 8/10

Elton Brand: Brand was the hero Atlanta needed on this night, providing major defensive help for Paul Millsap and the crew, not to mention doing it while playing 30 minutes, his high for this season (by over 10 minutes!). Brand finished with a team-high +10, scoring 10 points, grabbing 7 rebounds and blocking 3 shots. Hard to see him giving this much effort in so many minutes in any consistent manner, but it was fun to watch Brand provide so much energy (and a slew of close-range bunnies) as the team’s elder statesman. 10/10

Mike Scott: 9 points on 4-7 shooting, 4 rebounds, 0 turnovers, +7, perfect suitor to combat small-ball playstyle… 13 minutes?!? Mike Scott played 13 minutes?!? No. Why. Come on. 9/10

Shelvin Mack: Mack wasn’t the biggest of factors tonight (13 minutes, 5 points, 1 assist, 1 turnover) but did show some stability in pushing the pace and running the offense without giving the ball away as Teague did so very often, which was nice to see. Of all the storylines this season, Mack’s improvement to bonafide back-up point guard has been one of the coolest to watch unfold. 7/10 

Lou Williams: Lou was undersized on defense, unable to make his shots and didn’t move the needle much at all for the Hawks despite his 21 minutes played on the court. He only took 6 shots (making one of them) and seemed very hesitant, but he’s had nights like these and will continue to as he rehabs from his ACL tear. 2/10

Mike Budenhozler: Mike Scott for 13 minutes, no clear halftime adjustments leading to a 26-15 third quarter to an opponent who has struggled mightily in said quarter. I liked certain ploys by Bud tonight though, sticking Millsap on Joe Johnson in crunch time and not running that three-guard lineup that would have been creamed against this team. 6/10

Opposition: The Nets were creative, got great looks and most of all showed energy – something they’ve missed all season long. They were also without Deron Williams and Brook Lopez. 10/10

Next: Atlanta vs. Indiana, Wednesday, January 8th

David Vertsberger