Archives For Atlanta Hawks

Ron Turenne/NBAE/Getty Images

Ron Turenne/NBAE/Getty Images

Oh boy… The Hawks somehow managed to follow up their 36 point loss against the Detroit Pistons with a 44 point loss against the Toronto Raptors — 128-84 — at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday evening. DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 21 points, one of eight players who scored double digits for the Raptors. The Raptors outscored the Hawks 42-14 in the fourth quarter.

Tailspinning out of control

This was the Hawks’ ninth loss in the last ten games and their sixth in a row. I’m reluctant to call this a crisis as long as Paul Millsap (who missed his third consecutive game last night) is out, but Paul Millsap — while he’s very good — is not worth 44 points. So, what’s going on? Let’s look at some of the issues from last night.

Ball movement

Subheadings? Oh man, that’s when you know things are bad. The Hawks aren’t moving the ball like they used to. Now, this isn’t to say the ball movement has died. Even last night there was some very nice ball movement, but the ball is sticking more now than it did in the past. Guys are either keeping hold of the ball too long or shooting it when they should be looking to pass. Here are a few examples from last night.

Take this possession, even though Dennis Schröder scores on this possession, he’s just holding the ball for way too long, it’s stuck with him. For this entire possession no one else touches the ball.

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Coach Budenholzer hasn’t lost more than five straight games since his first season in Atlanta — until Friday’s 104-88 loss to the Detroit Pistons. The Hawks returned home Friday night in search of not only a win, but to find their mojo they had when they started the season 9-2.  One of — if not the biggest — keys to that run was the bench. A bench that ranked 4th in scoring and averaged 45 points a game in October has now slipped to 32 points per game over the last five games. Both units are struggling in a number of areas, but the offensive possessions are the most glaring.  

“I think we are all just in a bit of a rut right now,” Kyle Korver said post-game Friday night. “It’s the first unit, it’s the second unit. We need to get the ball moving again and get everybody involved.”

“I would say a lot of possessions are not good enough,” said a visibly frustrated Mike Budenhozer. “We are not getting the looks that we need to get and then when you do get a good look it puts a lot of pressure to make those good ones. The game gets hard that way; you want to be free flowing. I don’t think we are getting a lot of good possessions to make those good looks feel right.”

During the winning streak, whenever the starters were in a close contest the bench was there to save them. Whenever the starters had a substantial lead, Muscala, Sefolosha and Hardaway stretched it even further. The road trip called for the bench to step up more than ever, as the Hawks played five games in eight days. Those eight days consisted of a starting unit averaging just 25 points a game and shooting 37 percent from the field.  Once again, the starters struggled, shooting just 34 percent from the field tonight and once again contributing 45 points. The reserves simply weren’t enough to gloss over the troubles hindering the 1st unit.

“Some things we have to get better with, our pick and roll actions,” Kyle Korver said. “Dennis and Dwight are still new to each other in a lot of ways and they’re still figuring it out. We have to do whatever we can to help them, give them better spacing, but I think it’s a lot of parts of the offense that’s a problem, not just the pick and roll.”

The losing streak hurts, yes, but even worse is an absence of fear in opponents when they have to try and stifle this offense. An offense that was once able to wear defenses down until a white flag was waved or break out on a 12-2 run in a blink of an eye to shrink a deficit currently looks like a distant relative.

Defenses are making a stronger effort to close the paint off pick and rolls and, by doing so, throwing off an offense that works best when the inside presence is established first. Before the five game winning streak ended, Atlanta was ranked fourth in points in the paint — averaging 47 points a game — however, over the last three games, they’ve been held to just 38 points a game.

“Teams are sending three or four bodies at me as I’m rolling to the basket to make sure I don’t get any easy baskets,” Dwight Howard said. “They are forcing our guards to make plays, so it’s just a little adjustment that we are going to fix.”

The Hawks don’t  have many off days to rest and watch film to recuperate,m as they face the 2nd seed Toronto Raptors on Saturday night on the back end of a back-to-back, and return home Monday where Russell Westbrook awaits them.

Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks (without Paul Millsap) dropped their fourth game in succession — and their seventh in eight games — after losing out to the Phoenix Suns at Talking S(h)tick Resort Arena, 107-109. Brandon Knight led the Suns in scoring with 23 points while receiving other significant contributions from P.J. Tucker and Jared Dudley, who scored 17 points each.

End of the road (trip)

Atlanta’s five game road trip is finally over. It’s been a rough week and a bit for the Hawks, five games in seven nights and only a 1-4 record to show for all their efforts. It’s safe to say everyone is looking forward to putting this road trip behind them and getting back home to Atlanta.

“…it’ll be good to get back home, sleep in your own bed and get ready to get back at it.” — Kent Bazemore

“You never feel good when you have a tough road trip and you’ve lost a few in a row. But I think we are looking forward to going home…” — Coach Mike Budenholzer

It was a weird game for the Hawks to drop. Not so much of the opposition (although the Suns were 5-13 heading into last night’s game) but listen to these stats from last night’s game:

The Hawks shot 50% from the field, shot 36% from behind the arc, scored over 100 points, scored 21 second chance points, scored 20 fastbreak points, scored 29 points off of the Suns’ turnovers and had three players who scored 20 or more points… And still lost. Kent Bazemore had an… interesting, shall we say, way of describing how the Hawks have been playing of late.

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 Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks suffered their sixth loss in seven games as they dropped a tightly contested fixture against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, 105-100. The Warriors had three players who scored 20 or more points, Kevin Durant and Steph Curry both scored 25 points while Klay Thompson added 20 points to the Warriors’ cause.

A valiant effort, reason for optimism going forward

Although the Hawks did lose their sixth game in their last seven games, they can be proud of how they played competed against arguably the best team in the NBA, the Warriors now winners of 12 straight games. This was not a bad loss. The Hawks played some good defense — holding the team with the highest offense efficiency in the Warriors (115 points per 100 possessions heading into this game) to 101 points per 100 possessions — and played some good offense, much better than we’ve seen it of late and they cracked 100 points for the first time in six games.

“Definitely better than what it (the Hawks’ offense) has been. We still have to get better. It’s a loss. It goes on to the record. It’s tough but we’ll take and build on it.” — Paul Millsap

The Hawks seemed to run out of gas a little bit in the fourth quarter, where the Warriors outscored the Hawks 25-19. The Hawks missed some decent looks and when the Warriors’ defense clamped down, you just weren’t sure who was going to step up for the Hawks offensively.

A period of the game that, I thought, proved costly for the Hawks was that period of the game where end of the third quarter ends and the first few minutes of the fourth quarter. Tim Hardaway Jr. misses a three-point attempt in the dying embers of the third quarter, and from the resulting stop Ian Clarke drains the buzzer-beating three to cut the Hawks lead from four to one heading into the fourth quarter. The Warriors, with the crowd now energised, reeled a quick 6-0 run that gave the Warriors a five point lead, a lead they would not relinquish.

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Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks’ suffered their second defeat of the season to Los Angeles Lakers, 94-109, in L.A. The Lakers (who were without D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle) were led by Lou Williams’ 21 bench points while Jordan Clarkson added another 18 off of the bench. This latest loss is Atlanta’s fifth in sixth games and the sixth game in a row where the Hawks have failed to crack 100 points.

Hawks unable to maintain hot start

The Hawks started this game really well, flying out of the traps for 32 first quarter points and they looked great on both ends of the floor. They built up a 13 point lead before the Lakers and their fantastic second unit rallied in the second quarter, outscoring the Hawks 35-16 in the period. Nick Young and Larry Nance Jr. put together great individual quarters, and the Lakers’ ability to switch on pick-and-rolls bothered the Hawks enough and it helped the Lakers get back into this game.

“We played a very good first quarter. They made a run and we kind of panicked after that.” — Thabo Sefolosha

The offense — which has been pretty awful of late — was actually looking good in that first quarter. I liked how the Hawks played with pace, it seemed to cause the Lakers some issues but after the first quarter things seemed to slow down.

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Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE/Getty Images

Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks’ road trip hit a nasty bump as they were absolutely crushed 68-95 by the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City. Gordon Hayward scored a game high 24 points while George Hill added another 23 to the Utah cause as the Hawks’ starters combined for just 37 points.

Utah’s outstanding defense

Look, the Hawks’ offense wasn’t great, but a huge reason as to why that was the case was the amazing defensive display that the Utah Jazz produced. You know, sometimes you lose a game not purely because you didn’t play well but because the other team was simply better — this was the case last night. Gobert, Hood, Hill and company played an absolute blinder on the defensive end, holding the Hawks to season lows in scoring (68 points), 11 assists and field goal percentage (32%).

As Mike Conti of 92.9 The Game pointed out on Twitter, these numbers were not only season lows, but all time lows under Coach Mike Budenholzer (2013-present).

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Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks snapped their three game skid — and began their five game road trip — by knocking off the Indiana Pacers 96-85 in Indiana. We’ll get to Dwight Howard’s line in a bit, but Paul Millsap also had a significant impact in this game, scoring 18 points, collecting 11 rebounds, dished out five assists, came up with four steals and blocked three shots.

Reacquainting with an old friend

Jeff Teague spent seven years in Atlanta before requesting a trade this summer. This request was granted with Teague heading to Indiana in the deal that sent George Hill to Utah and the 12th overall selection in the 2016 draft heading to Atlanta.

Chris Vivlamore of the AJC posted a story about Jeff Teague, it’s worth worth checking out. Jeff talks about Atlanta’s ceiling with himself and Al Horford, Dennis Schröder and more. Here’s an excerpt from the piece, the day Teague found out he was headed home:

“When Bud calls you it’s either really good or really bad,” Teague recalled Wednesday morning before his new and former teams met for the first time since the trade. “I said most likely it’s really bad because it’s the summer time and he’s calling me.”

Teague said Budenholzer’s voice cracked. That’s when he knew there had been a trade. The first thing Teague wanted to know was where he was headed.

“I kept reading that I was going to Philly,” Teague said. “I was like he’s going to send me to Philly. Nothing wrong with Philly, great place, great organization. I was like ‘C’mon. C’mon.’ I didn’t even think this (Indiana) was happening. I thought it was Utah, Dallas or Philly. He said, ‘I sent you home.’ I said, ‘Indiana?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I might regret this, but I’m thankful for what you did, and I appreciate you.’”

Ha-ha, “I might regret this”. Considering the Pacers are now 7-9, it’s pretty unlikely (even though it’s still early) that the Hawks and Pacers are going to meet in the playoffs, I don’t think he’ll be regretting it too much now.

Anyways, last night was the first time the two parties met since that trade, in a matchup that Teague called “awkward”.

“It was awkward but it was fun to compete. I wish we could have won.” — Jeff Teague

It was cool to see Teague smiling and catching up with his old teammates pre-game and fun to see him head over to Bob Rathbun and Dominique, as they were live, and pretend to stroke Bob’s hair.

I was excited to see him and Dennis Schröder get after each other, but the matchup was underwhelming in the end. The two didn’t really get after each other and the two didn’t have the greatest games, Teague scoring 11 points on 5-of-15 shooting while Dennis put up nine points on 3-of-11 shooting. That was disappointing, and now we have to wait until March to see Jeff Teague again when the Pacers come to Atlanta.

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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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