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Well Hawks fans, stop me if you’ve heard this one since the All-Star break: Dennis Schroder has run afoul of head coach Mike Budenholzer and the Atlanta Hawks… again.

First it was Schroder getting back to the team late after the All-Star break citing visa issues, which garnered him a one-game suspension.

Then a couple of days later, Schroder misses the team bus in Orlando. He gets benched for the first quarter.

Now this…

Going into the game last night against the two-time NBA Finalists and the greatest show on court Golden State Warriors, the story of the night was supposed to be a measuring stick of how much of a contender the Hawks are going into the playoffs.

Umm, to quote that old Blue Magic song…

“Let the side show begin…HURRY HURRRY!…step right on innnnn”.

By the end of the night, the Atlanta Hawks were handed their third consecutive loss, getting beat by Golden State 119-111 and Schroder doing his best version of being “Dennis the Menace”.

Anybody missing Jeff Teague yet? The way things are going, you will by playoff time. Trust me.

The Atlanta Hawks capitalized on the same issues that the Warriors have had since Kevin Durant injured his knee. They come out a little slow and sluggish; meanwhile the Hawks used an early 10-0 run to grab an early 14-7 lead. The Hawks extended the lead in the first quarter riding the outstanding play from Dennis Schroder, keeping the Warriors at bay for the rest of the first quarter.

How good was Schroder? Dennis dropped 19 points in the first quarter on the strength of knocking down seven of nine shots including four of five from the land of 3. Atlanta rode that wave to an early 42-35 lead at the end of the first quarter. He went on to finish the game on the bench after playing about three minutes in the second half.

Was he injured? No.

But this scenario had a little bit to do with it.

Dwight Howard tossed an outlet pass out of bounds. Seems harmless, happens all the time in an NBA game. For some reason, it seemed to tick off Schroder. It ticked Schroder off so much that he forgot to cover Steph Curry and Curry knocked down a three pointer.

Yeah, that Steph Curry. The two-time MVP. There’s a nasty rumor going around that this guy can shoot…

His brother Seth can shoot.

His father Dell can shoot.

I bet his wife Ayesha can shoot.

I could believe his kids can knock down ten footers… like now.

Get the point? Well Schroder apparently didn’t get the point and Budenholzer made his by showing Schroder the bench for the rest of the night.

Let’s get Dennis Schroder’s insight after the game courtesy of ESPN.com:

” I don’t understand Coach’s decision,” he said. “Maybe I’m too competitive, trying to win games. But I don’t get that one.”

Okay let me help shine the light a little bit in that regard. Since the All-Star break, Dennis Schroder has forgotten the number one rule in being a point guard…

You have to be a leader on the floor and off.

This is a microcosm of what is wrong with the Atlanta Hawks and why they have dropped six of their last eight games. Leadership. Cleveland have leaders in LeBron James, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and a ton of veterans in the locker room. Boston has Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford (Remember him Hawks fans?) and Avery Bradley. Toronto has Kyle Lowry and DeMar Derozan. Notice every team that was mentioned had a point guard listed above.

I’m not getting in the mind of Howard, but I can’t blame the guy for being slightly irritated for being yelled at by a guy that seems to struggle reading a calendar and a time clock. Throw in the fact that Howard dominated the backboard grabbing 19 rebounds, it’s not a good idea to get on a guy that is working hard down low. Furthermore as a point guard and a leader, Schroder needs to learn that you deal with player’s personalities differently. ESPECIALLY DWIGHT HOWARD!

To Howard’s credit, he downplayed the incident (for now)…his take courtesy of ESPN…

“It happens during the course of the game,” he said. “It just cost us a 3. We’ve got to make sure we nip it in the bud quick and move on to the next play.”

If history teaches us anything Hawks fans, this team is in serious peril. Dwight Howard is notoriously sensitive and he tends to get frustrated with ball dominant guards. Don’t believe me? Go have a long chat with James Harden and Kobe Bryant and see what they say. Sure, what he said above sounded real dandy and sweet. But in Los Angeles and Houston, even Orlando when Howard gets unappreciated in his own mind, he can shut down like your power bill for lack of payment. Remember the infamous Stan Van Gundy press conference before he got fired? They looked like “Goodfellas”, didn’t they? With Howard smiling?

Only Van Gundy knew it was fake. Pray that quote isn’t fake either.

I’ve already shined the light on Budenholzer and the classy way he does things in Atlanta. He showed no less last night not throwing his point guard under the bus courtesy of ESPN.com…

“Just a coach’s decision,” Budenholzer said. “We need to learn to play together and stay together for 48 minutes.”

This is a critical time in the season and Mike Budenholzer knows it. With about 20 games left in the season, it is plainly clear that the Hawks are in disarray and problems behind the scenes are leaking out on the court. Hopefully, the Hawks will discuss it behind the scenes and right the ship.

At least that’s the intention of Dennis Schroder as he stated again from of ESPN.com.

“We got to figure it out me and Coach,” Schroder said. ” I want to talk about it. Dwight’s got to be in there too. Get on the same page. Then we’ll be all right.”

Stay tuned Hawks fans, we’re all in for a wild ride.

Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks dropped their third straight game (and the sixth of their last eight) as they were topped by the Golden State Warriors at Philips Arena. Steph Curry and Andre Iguodala led the Warriors with 24 points each. For the Hawks, Dennis Schröder scored a team-high 23 points while Paul Millsap also added 20 points. 

More Dennis drama

Dennis Schroder has made plenty of Atlanta Hawks headlines since the All-Star break and — once again — he was the talk of the town last night, benched for pretty much all of the second half, having ignited Philips Arena in the first quarter with 19 points and 23 first half points. 

There was an incident early in the third quarter where Dwight Howard and Dennis had an on-court disagreement (and that’s what it was, a disagreement, come on now. It was a disagreement not an argument, there’s a difference) after a poor outlet pass from Dwight sailed out of bounds. Dennis, I can only imagine, was unhappy that he didn’t receive the ball while Dwight made his case for attempting to pass to the open Thabo Sefolosha. Meanwhile, while the two bickered, Steph Curry was allowed to shoot an open three-pointer (not a good basketball shot to give up) prompting Coach Budenholzer to immediately call for a timeout.

Dennis was reinserted following the timeout but proceeded to take this poor shot shortly afterwards:

As highlighted, Kent Bazemore clearly had the better shot here and shortly after this, Dennis was quickly yanked and did not return.

Continue Reading…

 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.

Continue Reading…

The Atlanta Hawks began their five game road trip in heartbreaking fashion — suffering a 109-105 overtime defeat to the Golden State Warriors. Without Steph Curry and Andre Iguodala, the Warriors were missing a combined 38 points, 10 assists, and 9.5 rebounds for this game. As such, the game became a defensive affair — a game much more up the Hawks’ street. But the Hawks were unable to prevail, and they lost a heartbreaker in overtime.

 A great second half, but another tough loss

Things weren’t looking too great for the Hawks as they headed into the locker room at halftime. They trailed the Warriors by 48-59, as the Warriors shot 47% in the first half. One hot Klay Thompson quarter, and this game would be in serious danger of being over before the fourth quarter. But the Hawks turned the defensive screw in the second half — holding the Warriors to 38 points in the second half on 30% shooting.

The Hawks executed on both ends in the fourth quarter — making 10 of their 18 field goal attempts (55%), while holding the Warriors to 30% shooting in the fourth.

The key to this turnaround were the defensive adjustments the Hawks made. More specifically, the Hawks switched their pick-and-roll coverage, which caught the Warriors off guard:

Continue Reading…

Similar to the first meeting back in January, the lowly Bucks gave the Hawks all they had and then some.

Atlanta weathered the storm, came back, took the lead, but eventually fell in double OT 117-109. It’s the third straight loss at home, which has not happened since 2004.

“Anytime the game goes two overtimes, there are opportunities for both teams. In the second overtime, they got a little separation, a couple baskets we were not able to score. Our execution could be better in some situations, including at the end of games.”

So much buzz surrounded the team over the break about the futures of Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Dennis Schröder, back-to-back losses like these only bring on more questions and frustration. The offense is a little out of sync, piling up 21 turnovers versus Miami on Friday and shooting just 44% from the field against Milwaukee.

“It’s very disappointing,” Horford, who ended with 17 points and nine rebounds, said postgame. “We have nice homestand here. This is not the way we pictured it going. We are really in a hole right now.” Continue Reading…

The two best teams in the NBA clashed on Friday night and the Atlanta Hawks emerged with a 124-116 victory over the Golden State Warriors behind seven players with double-digit scoring.

“We’re a confident bunch, but it’s still a long season,” said Jeff Teague. “We’ve got another big test coming up for us against Memphis, so we’ll celebrate this win tonight and get ready tomorrow for Memphis.”

Teague’s sentiment was popular throughout the locker room after the game. In front of a large congregation of media that was asking about things such as the playoffs and Finals potential, the Hawks continuously responded with how there are still a lot of games to play and that the team still has a lot to prove. Despite that, this game goes a long way towards proving the capabilities of the Hawks. The Warriors have held the best point differential in the NBA and have been the best team in the NBA all season.

To anyone that did not watch this game, you should find a replay of it somewhere; it was tremendous. The pace was fast and both teams were trading haymaker 3s and highlight reel plays. For the Warriors, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson were providing a lot of offense, with the two combining for 55 points. Draymond Green was also fantastic, putting up a stat line of 12 points, 20 rebounds (10 offensive), and six assists.

But at the end, the day belonged to the Hawks, who are now 42-9 and reclaimed the best record in the league. As mentioned earlier, the Hawks did it with a team effort of seven guys in double-figures, with Dennis Schröder just missing out with the nine points he scored to complement his seven assists. Schröder had a great stretch in the fourth quarter, where he assisted on a lob to Al Horford, hit a 3, and hit another jumper that pushed the Atlanta lead to eight. Continue Reading…

Note: This is a season-long series in which Caleb Cottrell and Brandon Barnes will discuss what they notice from the Atlanta Hawks.

Caleb Cottrell: Welcome to another addition to the Pac-and-Forth series! Sadly, Brandon Barnes and I have gathered you all here today because the Hawks lost their first game since the new year. However, it’s a new day! They still have the best record in the East and plenty to be thankful for!

Song of the Week:

CC: Fort Minor! M. Shinoda! The Hawks got knocked down after losing their first game since mid-December. It’s all about getting back up on their feet, and not letting this one game keep them down, which I don’t think will happen. They just need to continue to work hard, and they will get the attention and be remembered.

BB: For my song this week, I’m going with an English football classic. That’s right, it’s Liverpool’s fan anthem and mantra “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. As a new fan of Liverpool’s this year, I’ve found it extremely enjoyable to watch and experience because all of the key points of the franchise are similar to the New Hawks. A strong team, fanbase, and, most importantly, a community: all hungry for the next win. How about we get Sir Foster to jam this at the next game while everyone holds up Hawks scarves (or I guess the American equivalent: snapbacks…)? Maybe not, but it’s still a powerful song. Listen to the lyrics with an open heart and picture how well this fits in with this team. Continue Reading…

FINAL

GSW(22-13) 101 – 100 (18-15)ATL

Key Performers:
S. Curry (GSW): 22 pts, 8 reb, 9 ast, 5 stl
P. Antic (ATL): 16 pts, 7 reb
[FULL BOX SCORE]

After the way the Hawks won against Cleveland, Charlotte, and Boston, they were bound to end up on the negative end of the luck meter at some point. Unfortunately for them, the luck swung hard the other way, as Atlanta surrendered a 15 point fourth quarter lead to the Warriors, losing on an Andre Iguodala 3-pointer at the buzzer. Golden State shot 6-for-27 (22.2%) on 3-pointers for the night, but they made three very important shots from behind the arc in the final period to steal the game from the Hawks.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Paul Millsap: Millsap had one of his roughest nights of the season, going 3-for-14 from the field. He couldn’t get any shots to drop, whether they be at the rim or open looks on his jumper. Despite his 11 rebounds, he still had trouble keeping Lee and Bogut off of the boards. 4/10

Jeff Teague: Jeff had five turnovers on the night, but none of those were his biggest mistake. With the Hawks up 99-96 late, Jeff went to the free throw line and subsequently only made one of his two free throws. The two free throws could have put the game out of reach for the Warriors. His 5-for-13 shooting night wasn’t very helpful, either. 5/10

Pero Antic:Pero had a much stronger game than Jeff in my opinion, but like Jeff, he also made a huge mistake late in the game. On Iguodala’s game-winning jumper, Pero helped in order to try and trap Steph Curry around mid-court. Apparently that was not the plan and its failure led to the Hawks losing. However, without Pero, it’s hard to say the Hawks are even in this game. 8/10

DeMarre Carroll: There were no turnovers from DeMarre Carroll tonight. I repeat, NO TURNOVERS! Now, he did have a couple of mistakes in transition (again), but other than that, he had a strong night. He helped force a lot of turnover, resulting in four steals for himself, and made several timely off ball cuts to get him 12 points on the night. Good to have DeMarre back after he sat out a couple of game due to his thumb injury. 7.5/10

Kyle Korver: Kyle made the Hawks’ first basket to extend the streak to 102 games, but that was about all he did. Klay Thompson, who Coach Budenholzer credited as an underrated defender before the game, kept close to Korver all night long. He result was a 2-for-7 shooting night, but he did have some nice passes to get him four assists (no turnovers) on the night. 7/10 Continue Reading…

So, there’s two free agents off the board.

Andre Iguodala signed with the Warriors today after Golden State was able to dump the salaries of Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson to Utah. The deal is for four years, $48 million.

USA Today’s Sam Amick has reported that Dwight Howard will sign with the Houston Rockets. Current details of a contract are unknown.

What does this mean for the Hawks? Well, their likely plan-B is off the table; the Hawks had been rumored to be in heavy pursuit of Iggy if they missed out on Howard and CP3. (which they now have) Free agents Al Jefferson, Tyreke Evans, JJ Redick, Tony Allen, and David West are also off the board now.

So, who’s left? Of course, the Hawks still have their own free agents to look at in Josh Smith, Devin Harris, Jeff Teague, and Zaza Pachulia, with Smoove likely being the best available of all options at this point. (even if Dwight hasn’t picked a team yet, he’s most likely not picking Atlanta) Nikola Pekovic is still out there, but I expect Minnesota to match any offer he gets, even if it does put them in the luxury tax.

Of course, a sign-and-trade with Houston to send Josh Smith to play with his best friend, Dwight, is still in play. In such a trade, the Hawks would likely get center Omer Asik and might have to take on Jeremy Lin.

Paul Millsap may now be one of the more intriguing options for the Hawks. Yes, Horford would still have to play center if Millsap was signed, but Millsap can rebound well and space the floor. His defense isn’t ideal, but it could work.

Andrei Kirilenko is also a feasible option right now, as is Corey Brewer. Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry, who are now likely to sign elsewhere because of Golden State’s new situation, could also be a fit with Mike Budenholzer’s vision of this team.

Players I would avoid like the plague: Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, and JJ Hickson. To be fair, Jennings and Ellis are players that could work in the right system, but I’m not a fan of their play styles. Hickson is a trainwreck; don’t even look into it, Danny.