Archives For Damian Lillard

The Atlanta Hawks dropped their second straight home game, this time against the Portland Trail Blazers, 113-97. In what was a wire-to-wire win for the Blazers, Damian Lillard led the way with 27 points while his running mate, C.J. McCollum, added 22 points. For the Hawks, Ersan Ilyasova — probably the only Hawks who you could say had a good game — led the way with 23 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field and 4-of-5 from behind the arc.

Standings watch

Following this loss, the Hawks are now three games behind the Toronto Raptors in the race for home court advantage. The Hawks are about to head on a three game road trip (@ Charlotte, @ Washington and @ Milwaukee) this week. If this road trip goes badly, you can kiss home court advantage goodbye.

No Millsap = problems

Paul Millsap was a late scratch from this game with left knee tightness. The Hawks are 0-3 in his absence and the average margin of defeat is 27 points (including a 44 point loss to the Toronto Raptors). With last night’s loss that number drops to 0-4.

I mean, where do I even start with the Hawks last night? The defense was awful, the offense was awful, there was no effort, no urgency and little respect given to a team who has now won 7 of their last 9 games. There was little/no respect given to Lillard or McCollum, who literally got to whatever spot they wanted and got any shot they wanted…etc.

Yea…pretty much, Kimi, pretty much. The Hawks playing very poorly in Millsap’s absence was no coincidence at 0-3 and is no coincidence now at 0-4.

Anyways, let’s try to break some of it down and see where the Hawks went wrong. It’s worth mentioning, before we get cracking here, that not all of this could’ve been avoided even if Millsap was in the lineup. The Hawks have a lot of issues with Paul in the lineup, let alone without.

However, the Hawks are going to have to get used to Millsap’s absence. Chris Vivlamore of the AJC reports that both Millsap and Bazemore — who suffered a knee contusion near the end of this game — will miss at least two games, Bazemore to be re-evaluated in 7-10 days.

Nightmare first quarter

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Sean Meagher | The Oregonian/OregonLive

The Atlanta Hawks returned to winning ways with a 109-104 overtime victory against the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night at the Moda Center. The Blazers, as they so often have been, were led by Damian Lillard’s and C.J. McCollum’s 21 and 26 points respectively. The Hawks were led by Tim Hardaway Jr.’s team high 25 points while Paul Millsap added 21 points and Dennis Schröder added 22 points.

Paul “Clutch” Millsap takes the Hawks to overtime and beyond

This was not the prettiest offensive game for the Hawks but they managed to slow down the Blazers’ offense and recovered from a double digit deficit to give themselves a chance to win this game. Some great defense, after a few agonising offensive rebounds for the Blazers, by Tim Hardaway Jr. on C.J. McCollum — followed by a defensive rebound by Prince — gave the Hawks the opportunity to possibly win the game or take the game to overtime.

People give THJ a lot of stick for his defense (sometimes it’s warranted) but give him credit here.

However, Atlanta still found themselves trailing by two points with just 2.2 seconds remaining, in need of a bucket to save this game. Enter, Paul Millsap.

At. The. Buzzer.

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This looked like it would be the night.

First, Portland’s Damian Lillard was left off of a stacked Western Conference All-Star team. Later, it was announced that DeMarre Carroll would not play due to an Achilles strain. Finally — when the game started — Carroll’s replacement, Thabo Sefolosha, came up limping after a blown layup and was later diagnosed with a calf strain. He did not return.

it seemed as if Portland was not going to miss early after they started 7-for-8 from 3-point range. After Atlanta had put together a mini-rally to close the first half, Portland responded with Steve Blake banking in a corner 3-pointer at the buzzer. That bank seemed like it would be it; this was going to finally be the end of the Hawks’ win streak.

But when the dust settled after 48 minutes, the Hawks ended the day with a 105-99 win and the best record in the NBA.

Paul Millsap scored 21 points and Al Horford pitched in with 17 as the Hawks were able to overcome 37 points from LaMarcus Aldridge. The win represented the Hawks 18th win in a row, a streak that is tied for the ninth best in NBA history.

“We’re a resilient group,” said Horford on the adversity the Hawks faced in the game. “We just kept fighting, got stops when we needed to and really got into a good rhythm offensively.”

One of the main guys who kept fighting was Kent Bazemore, who played a career-high 40 minutes in the wake of the injuries to Carroll and Sefolosha. Bazemore recored 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting, five rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a block. Continue Reading…

The second game of a back to back in Portland screamed “schedule loss” to me. The Trail Blazers are an exceptional team and play well in front of their raucous home crowd; only another exceptional team would be able to take them down in their home arena.

And we are learning that the 2014-15 Hawks are that kind of exceptional team.

Paul Millsap scored 27 points and Jeff Teague added 22 points to lead the Hawks to a 115-107 victory in Portland on Saturday night. The win gave the Hawks their fourth in a row and their 18th in their last 20 games. It also gave the Hawks a full-game cushion on the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

The game did not look like it was going to go the Hawks’ way early; Portland opened with an 8-0 that started with Nicolas Batum sinking a hotly contested 3-pointer. After a timeout, the Hawks came out rolling, going on a 29-12 run to close the quarter and establish a lead.

Portland responded in the second quarter thanks to their 3-point shooting. Led by Dorell Wright from off of the bench, the Blazers shot 5-for-7 from behind the arc in the quarter, where they put up 29 points of their own. Portland had the Atlanta lead down to just one point, but Paul Millsap hit a couple of free throws to give the Hawks a 52-49 lead heading into halftime. Continue Reading…

FINAL

POR(46-27) 100 – 85 (31-40)ATL

Key Performers:
LaMarcus Aldridge (POR): 25 pts, 16 reb
Jeff Teague (ATL): 22 pts, 3 reb
[FULL BOX SCORE]

The Hawks fell behind early, pushing back with two runs in the latter half that eventually fell short as Atlanta drops their fifth in a row. For most of the night, the Hawks starting five was their best lineup, cutting into a colossal halftime lead for Atlanta’s first “comeback” of the night. After the Blazers responded, it was Lou Williams stepping up to keep the Hawks within striking distance, but to no avail. Once again the Hawks couldn’t connect from downtown with Korver and now Antic out with injury, shooting 4-22 on the evening.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Paul Millsap: Millsap had another tough outing, unable to find his best looks with little spacing. Paul was forced to take a large amount of poor perimeter shots, leading to a horrid 3-15 shooting night. Another factor could have been exercising a majority of his effort on defense, where he guarded LaMarcus Aldridge for most of the contest. Millsap was solid in this regard, forcing Aldridge into tough mid-range looks. 4/10

Jeff Teague: Teague was extremely aggressive tonight, constantly looking for seams into the lane and putting up every shot that looked appealing. He played with an extra shot of swagger, throwing one-handed bullet passes and at one point sizing up his defender with some streetball dribbles. The frivolous things aside, Teague finished 10-18 from the field and scored 22 points in 37 minutes. 9/10

Elton Brand: Budenholzer 3:17 says, “Amassing the plague of injuries in such dire times, God sent forth a descendant from the heavens, a savior for the troubled Hawks. The bearer of 42 great angel wings, his holiness, Elton Brand.” Amen. 10/10

DeMarre Carroll: Carroll stuck to his script, scoring 11 and grabbing 4 boards shooting nearly perfectly from the field, 5-of-6. During the broadcast, ‘Nique noted DeMarre’s floater that’s been a recent addition to his game when he dropped one through in the first quarter. Atlanta’s swiss army knife keeps on getting better. 8/10

Shelvin Mack: Mack started alongside Jeff Teague tonight, his 3-9 shooting night skewed by a couple of last second flings. Impressively, the Blazers weren’t able to take advantage of the obvious mismatch with Mack having to guard Wes Matthews who loves posting up smaller guards. 7/10
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FINAL

POR(42-19) 102 – 78 (26-33)ATL   

Key Performers:
N. Batum (POR): 14 pts, 18 reb
C. Martin (ATL): 16 pts, 6 reb, 3 stl
[FULL BOX SCORE]

You know…nobody actually expected the Hawks to win this game. There was a hope that they might be able to pull out an upset thanks to their ball movement and 3 point shooting. The Blazers aren’t exactly a good defensive team, maybe if the ball is moving fast enough and the shots are falling then they have a chance. Of course, it didn’t go that way. I feel this tweet from @fergoe on twitter describes it perfectly.

Of course the Hawks had to lay a giant egg on national TV. It’s the Hawks way. Yes, the Blazers were a better team but when they start off the game missing every single wide open look created, you know they’re about to do something awful.

Reaction grades [assessed 0-10]:

Jeff Teague: Teague really tried to be aggressive tonight. He attacked his defenders, he was trying to move the ball and get the offense going during some of the lowest moments of the game. I’ll give him points for trying but he was largely unsuccessful at it. To top everything off he had a pass that’s up there for one of the worst ones all season. Not a good game by any stretch. 3/10

DeMarre Carroll: Carroll had a horrible game on the offensive side of the ball. Was extremely overmatched by anybody that happened to be guarding him. On defense he struggled keeping up with his matchups off ball. He did his usual things like rebound and set screens but he just didn’t have enough of a positive contribution to justify giving him a good grade. 4/10

Kyle Korver: The streak is over at 127. Korver was swarmed by defenders and couldn’t hit the few open looks he got. That’s it for how his game went. I just want to say how cool it was to see someone on a night to night basis make NBA history. I got to see Korver set the record to triple digits in person when he was in Orlando and it’s a basketball memory I’m going to always remember. I’m honestly bummed his streak had to end, but all streaks have to end eventually. :(/10

Elton Brand:If one good thing came out of tonight, it’s that Elton Brand didn’t have to play another huge minute night. 20 minutes where Brand went 3-for-6 from the field. On defense he was a large part of holding LaMarcus Aldridge to 1-for-13 shooting and deserves tons of credit for that. 7/10

Mike Scott: Scott couldn’t get anything going all night on offense. LaMarcus Aldrige and Robin Lopez shut him down. On the other side of things, Scott worked with Brand to make sure Aldridge didn’t score himself so he gets points for that. 5/10 Continue Reading…

2012-13 Record: 33-49 (11th in West)z-blazers

Playoff Result: N/A

Key Additions: CJ McCollum (draft), Robin Lopez (trade), Dorell Wright (free agent), Thomas Robinson (trade), Mo Williams (free agent)

Key Losses: JJ Hickson (free agent and probably the best thing they could have done)

Predicted 2013-14 Record: 42-40 (8th in West)*

What to Expect: Despite how much I detest JJ Hickson for his defense, Portland actually had a good starting lineup last year. LaMarcus Aldridge is one of the best power forwards in the league, putting up at least 20 points and eight rebounds in each of the last three seasons. Damian Lillard came onto the scene and quickly established himself as a quality point guard with his winning of rookie of the year. Wes Matthews isn’t a great shooting guard, but he’s not bad either. And while Nicolas Batum might not stick out to most people, he does a little bit of everything and is very solid wing player.

So the Blazers had four solid pieces in their starting lineup. So what was wrong?

Depth. Portland had none of it. Continue Reading…

FINAL

POR(33-36) 104 – 93 (38-31) ATL

Key Performers:
W. Matthews (PDX): 28 pts, 4 reb, 2 ast
J. Teague (ATL): 21 pts, 7 ast, 2 stl
[FULL BOX SCORE]

I guess the Hawks do read my stuff, because they did the same thing that I did in my recent three game recap: completely skip over the Blazers.

“Breakdowns” was the word for Larry Drew in post game when talking about the 2nd half, as he was completely disgusted with his team’s effort on the defensive end. Portland shot 8-for-11 from behind the arc in the 2nd half, largely due to missed defensive assignments and slow rotations. While the Atlanta offense was able to keep up during the third, they just couldn’t keep it going, and were outscored 31-17 over the final period. Lack of fourth quarter offense and a sieve of a defense? Sounds like the Hawks are really missing Lou Williams and Zaza Pachulia.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: Once upon a time, after three quarters, Josh Smith was shooting 9-for-16 from the field and was getting a lot of good looks near the basket. (aka: DUNKS!) However, in the fourth quarter, it was… bleh! Josh was 0-for-5 in the fourth quarter, and took some of the most head-scratching jumpers that I’ve ever seen him take. He did make all four of his foul shots in the final period (ending up 6-for-10 for the night), but for an important stretch of the game, Josh actively shot the Hawks into a loss. 5/10

Al Horford: As inefficient as Josh was, it wasn’t like Al was doing him any favors with the shooting. The Hawks were aggressively looking to get Horford open looks, but Al left a lot of them short. He wound up with one of his worst shooting nights of the year, going 7-for-18 from the floor. However, Al was the team’s strongest rebounder, coming down with 17 rebounds. He also was an extremely active passer, which his five assists don’t adequately reflect. 7.5/10

Kyle Korver: If he’s not making shots, then Korver really isn’t helping you that much. He did get one three-pointer to drive his streak to 62 games, but overall, he missed quite a few easy looks that led to the Hawks offense stalling. 3/10

DeShawn Stevenson: Speaking of missed open shots, DeShawn Stevenson, everybody! And his defense was exactly helping either, as he let Wes Matthews (!) go off on him for 14 in the third quarter; not what you want out of your defensive stopper. 2/10

Jeff Teague: JT was the best player on the floor tonight for the Hawks, but he made a few key turnovers in the fourth quarter, including one where it didn’t even look like he was paying attention when Al Horford passed him the ball. This shouldn’t completely take away from Jeff’s night, because he was the only effective scorer in the fourth quarter. However, like Josh’s jumpers late in the fourth, those TOs came at a critical time in the fourth that make you wonder what the Hawks could have done if they were avoided. 8.5/10

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