Tiago Splitter dunked off an Al Horford assist as the third quarter expired for the 14th (and final) lead change and a 72-70 advantage for the Hawks over the visiting Brooklyn Nets. Atlanta seized control of what had been a tightly-contested game in the fourth quarter and the 101-87 victory was their 5th straight win.
The Hawks outscored the Nets 29-17 in the final quarter and Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer cited a strong defensive effort as a key to victory.
“It was good to see a fourth quarter where I think we closed better and managed to get some separation,” said Budenholzer.
Coach Bud singled out the efforts of Kent Bazemore and Justin Holiday in keying Atlanta’s defense.
“We were able to turn up the defense and get some stops in the fourth quarter. Kent tracking down blocked shots in transition and Justin with multiple efforts and multiple contests, that’s part of who we are and that’s what we’re going to have to continue to do.”
Kyle Korver got another night off to rest his ankle and Coach Bud started Dennis Schröder alongside Jeff Teague in his place. Schröder struggled the night before in Miami but played incredibly well against Brooklyn (plus-11 with 20 points and 4 assists). Teague had a solid performance of his own, dishing out a game-high six assists and finding ways to get to the line (8-for-10, 16 points).
Horford had a team-high 21 points (on 8-for-10 shooting) and eight rebounds, and Millsap contributed 12 points and a game-high eight defensive boards (nine total) with five steals. Bazemore had the least flashy numbers of the starters but set the tone defensively early on with two athletic blocked shots.
The Hawks struggled to contain Brook Lopez (27 points, 11 rebounds), but fortunately he and Thaddeus Young (14 points, 10 rebounds) were the only starting Nets who played well. Atlanta held former Hawk Joe Johnson to one field goal on 10 attempts and both Nets starting guards (Markel Brown and Jarrett Jack) were only able to contribute 6 points apiece.
Brooklyn’s offensive struggles were largely due to a few key players from Atlanta’s bench. Thabo Sefolosha was plus-10 in 21:40 and looked as healthy as Hawks fans could hope for this early in the season. This was the most comfortable Tiago Splitter has looked in an Atlanta jersey and he was a game-high plus-21 in almost 20 minutes of playing time.
The quiet star of tonight’s match up was Holiday, who was rewarded with just under 30 minutes for his efforts (plus-17, four blocked shots). Coach Bud kept him in for almost the entire fourth quarter and it was his impressive defense that allowed Atlanta to finally pull away from Brooklyn.
The 5-1 Hawks hope to carry the momentum from their stellar fourth quarter into their game in New Orleans Friday night before returning home to face the Wizards Saturday at 7:30 PM EST at Philips Arena.