Archives For Kent Bazemore

Happy weekend!

A new edition of This Week in the Hawks is here. It’s been a rough week and a bit for the Hawks and today’s topics kinda centre around that. Mostly, about how the schedule is looking for the Hawks and their playoff rivals, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Indiana Pacers.

After that, a brief recap of the Wizards and Bucks games before a lookahead to the upcoming schedule.

Thanks for listening, if you enjoyed, share the love it’s always appreciated.

The Atlanta Hawks suffered their sixth consecutive loss at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks in a tight affair, 97-100, at BMO Bradley Harris Centre. The Hawks had three players who scored 20 or more points, Dennis Schröder (28), Tim Hardaway Jr. (25) and Dwight Howard (20 points to go along with 12 rebounds).

Standings watch

Following this loss, the Hawks and the Bucks are now tied at 37-35 for the fifth seed but, crucially, the Hawks do own the tiebreaker between the two teams thanks to taking care of business in the first three meetings with Bucks this season. The only problem is that Bucks have won 11 of their last 13 while the Hawks have lost six straight. Meanwhile, back in the seventh seed, the Indiana Pacers are just a game back of Atlanta, who can thank the Nuggets for defeating the Pacers in Indy.

Another close loss

When it rains, it pours. The Hawks lost a heartbreaker in a game that could cost them vital playoff position. It won’t count for much since they’ve lost, but the Hawks have played two very decent games against the Wizards and Bucks but have come up short. This time, there were a few plays that cost them. We’re going to look at two of them: the one that put the Bucks up by two and the Hawks’ final shot.

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The Atlanta Hawks dropped their fifth consecutive game in a tightly contested affair against the Washington Wizards in D.C. on Wednesday night. For the Wizards, they were led by Bradley Beal’s 28 points.

The Hawks had done a decent defensive job on John Wall, who was scoreless in the first half on 0-of-8 shooting but came to life in the second half, all 22 of Wall’s points coming in the second half. Tim Hardaway Jr. led the Hawks with 29 points.

Standings watch

The Hawks retain the fifth seed in the East despite this loss after the Indiana Pacers lost in Boston on Wedneday night but there’s a new threat for the Hawks to worry about: The Milwaukee Bucks, winners of 10 games in their last 12. With the Bucks’ victory against the Kings, the Bucks move to just one game behind the Hawks and have wrestled the sixth seed away from the Pacers.

Atlanta’s next game? Yep. The Milwaukee Bucks in Milwaukee… What a huge game that will be.

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The shorthanded Atlanta Hawks dropped their fourth game in a row, falling to the Charlotte Hornets 105-90 at the Spectrum Center. The Hornets were led by Nic Batum’s and Kemba Walker’s 16 points while Frank Kaminsky added 14 points off the bench. For the Hawks, they were led by Dennis Schröder’s 20 points.

Standings watch

Goodbye, home court advantage! The Hawks are now four games behind the Toronto Raptors for the fourth seed and now need to look over their shoulders rather than looking ahead of them. They are just one game ahead of the Indiana Pacers for the fifth seed.

There’s a little bit of panic amongst Hawks fans. It’s all going wrong at the wrong time of the season and there’s concern in the locker room too about the Hawks’ recent play.

“There is a concern with how we are playing. It’s always been about what we are doing day-to-day. If you are doing things well day-to-day, you’ll move up in the standings and win games. If you are not doing things well day-to-day, the reverse will happen. We just have to be better.”

— Coach Mike Budenholzer

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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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The Atlanta Hawks couldn’t stop the San Antonio Spurs from moving atop of the Western Conference as the Spurs topped the Hawks 107-99 in San Antonio. The Spurs were led by Kawhi Leonard’s 31 points while Patty Mills — in place of the injured Tony Parker — scored 15 points and dished out nine assists. For the Hawks, they were led by Dennis Schröder’s double-double, 22 points and 10 assists.

The streak continues

February 15th 1997. That was the date the Hawks last beat the San Antonio Spurs in San Antonio and last night that losing streak (now 19 games) continued.

Without LaMarcus Aldridge (get well soon) and Tony Parker, this was as good of a time as ever for the Hawks to, perhaps, emerge from San Antonio with a victory but, alas, it was not to be. Kawhi Leonard was just so good, a truly special talent and an MVP candidate. His contributions on both ends of the floor were a huge reason why the Spurs won this game, as is often the case.

Threes the key

You can look at this game in two different ways: The Hawks either lost this game because they couldn’t contain San Antonio’s three-pointers, or because they couldn’t hit their own threes. The Spurs hit a season-high 16-of-34 (47%) from behind the arc while the Hawks only hit 6-of-22 (27%) from behind the arc, San Antonio outscoring the Hawks 48-18 from three. Take your pick, either way, the three-pointer was the difference.

After, seemingly, taking steps forward when it came to defending the three — holding Memphis and Toronto to a combined nine threes — the Hawks appear to have taken a step back in San Antonio.

We’re going to take a look at some of San Antonio’s threes.

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President Trump’s first term has brought forth one of the most divisive times in both our country’s history and our personal relationships. Professional basketball players, like the rest of us, have been affected no differently. Back in November, Kent Bazemore expressed his “excitement” for Trump in the aftermath of his election and later, in February, Sporting News reported that Bazemore believed that Trump was an “asset” for this country. His close friend and Under Armour colleague Stephen Curry disagrees, but was pragmatic when asked about his and Bazemore’s relationship after Monday’s 119–111 Warrior victory over the Hawks.

“I don’t think you need to keep [politics] out of a friendship,” Curry said. “You accept people for what they believe in whether if you believe it or not.”

Head coach Steve Kerr can also relate with Bazemore and Curry on having close buddies that don’t completely concur with their political point of view. Kerr hasn’t been shy this season when it comes to expressing his disdain for the president. But, he feels that people should be open to contrasting opinions because freedom of expression is essential to our democracy.

“I got lots of friends that disagree with me politically and I have no problem with that,” Kerr said. “it’s part of our democracy and everybody can take their stance. That is their opinion, we respect it, we debate and we hash things out. That’s the way it should be.”

Back in November, Bazemore spoke with me, post-election, about the importance of supporting the new commander-in-chief.

“I am excited man,” Bazemore said. “Something new, obviously the rest of society hasn’t taken it well with all of the protest and riots. “But I think people all across the country are sick and tired of how things have always been and that’s why you get a guy like him in office to shake things up a bit. Make America great again is his slogan and as a President, we should stand behind him. I am all for change, never been afraid of change — Barack Obama said he has a shifting confidence in Trump. Like Oprah said, I think everybody can take a deep breathe now.

“You know I was reading a post the other day, talking about how Trump is what America is. I think that we should all come together during a time like this. Some people are scared of change, but I am not, let’s do it, let’s see what he’s got because that’s all you can do is stand behind him. For a man like him to be talked about as negatively as he has all his life and still assumes the position of power says a lot about him and his resilience and as a leader that’s what you want.”

Following the Bazemore’s and Curry’s sixth matchup of their careers — Curry the winner of five of them — the former chatted with Dell and Sonya Curry outside the visitor locker room as other family and friends waited for Steph to finish up his postgame media obligations. Once completed, the two greeted one another with smiles and laughter. The pleasantries exchanged reflected their relationship — devoid of the political divide that has soiled so many relationships since that fateful Nov. 8 day.

“Our friendship goes way beyond basketball or politics,” Bazemore said. “We have a very special bond, but we aren’t siamese twins or anything. We both have a way of living life.”

Curry has no fundamental issue with having a close friend that takes an opposing side in the political arena, as long as that individual can articulate his or her thoughts logically and within reason.

“As long as you stand by it and have a reason for it or what not,” Curry said. “That doesn’t change my perspective on who a person is.”

Bazemore, too, was coy, yet candid about the potential divisiveness politics have taken on his life, but concurred with Curry’s perspective of acceptance, regardless of beliefs.

“Circumstance or whatever you want to throw out there may shape our opinions on certain things,” Bazemore said. “But it doesn’t change the state of our friendship or anything. It’s life, you are not going to be on the same page with all of your friends, but what’s understood doesn’t have to be said — that’s my guy all the way until the end”.

 

Avery Yang Contributed Reporting

The Atlanta Hawks finally captured a win against a top contending team in the second half of the season, defeating the Toronto Raptors 105-99 .

A week ago, they dropped three games in a row to Cleveland, Indiana and Golden State. Granted, they were competitive in those games, but that doesn’t show up in the win column. Struggling against the elite teams at this part of the season is alarming with the NBA Playoffs around the corner. A win like tonight, even with Kyle Lowry out of the lineup, is a reminder to themselves that they are capable of much more than they showed over that stretch of those games.

“In a way, it does remind us,” said Thabo Sefolosha.” “We had three tough losses at home during the home stretch. We definitely wanted to get this one.”

“We lost some tough games, close games, but you have to keep playing,” said Kent Bazemore. “This was a big game for us as far as playoff seeding, capturing home court, so we had to get this one.”

In February, they did secure a win facing the rival Celtics and later against Houston, but in the same month they looked inept facing the Jazz allowing 120 points, and couldn’t buy a shot against the clippers shooting 40-percent from the field. As we draw closer to the Playoffs, there is no denying the importance of a win like tonight and what it does for a team still in search for an identity.

Nobody can’t deny the importance of heading into the postseason feeling like you belong and have a legitimate shot to make some noise. Your ranking has some involvement in that, but how you fared against the those elite ball clubs goes an even longer way.

Think of the 2006-2007 Golden state Warriors that upset the Dallas Mavericks in the first round. In the final 20 games of the season, they defeated the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns and Detroit Pistons —  all 50 plus winning teams that year — and there is no denying that those wins contributed to shocking MVP Dirk Nowitzki and the 1-seed Mavericks.

Yes, ranking does hold some sort of weight when it comes to a player’s psyche heading into postseason, but confidence goes a long way as well.

“I think a little bit of both matters,” said Sefolosha. “But we can only control what we can control. Confidence in everybody, feeling good and ready to go is the one thing we can control.”

The Hawks will not be the 8-seed going into the Playoffs, but at one point this season they were and have looked as such at times. Wins against team like tonight will factor into their psyche come late April and May as well as all that they’ve been through as a team. Strong character develops when you face the type of adversity they have and is immeasurable when the lights shine the brightest.

“We can compete with anybody if everybody is on the same page,” said Dennis Schroder. “If everybody is playing together and playing defense together. We have to keep getting better each game until the playoffs start.”

Happy Friday!

A new edition of This Week in the Hawks podcast has dropped. Today’s topics include:

  • The Hawks and Lamar Patterson parting ways
  • What the Hawks plan to do with the extra roster spot and who the Hawks might sign
  • Game recaps from the past week, including Atlanta’s huge win in Boston
  • Some stats from the last five days
  • A look ahead to next week’s fixtures, including Kyle Korver’s return to Atlanta

Thanks, as always, for listening. If you enjoyed the pod, you can always give it an ‘aul ReTweet. That’d be cool.

Have a good weekend!

Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks — behind an excellent second half — ended their three game skid with an excellent road victory against the Boston Celtics at the TD Garden on Monday night. Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 19 points on 4-of-21 shooting, ending his 43 game streak of scoring 20 or more points in a game.

He’s had an incredible run at it, and you’re going to have nights like that. That’s certainly the case. But you know, again, I think we should also credit Atlanta. I feel like Atlanta deserves to be credited for (their defense); I thought they played great.”

— Coach Brad Stevens

Former Hawk Al Horford scored six points on 3-of-9 shooting.

Dwight’s eventful night

Eventful is certainly one way to describe Dwight Howard’s night… At least we’re not talking about some Schröder-Thomas nonsense, I suppose…

Dwight was having a very decent game. He had the advantage over the Celtics when it came to rebounding (grabbing six offensive rebounds and 12 overall), he was hitting the majority of his free throws and he was playing good defense…things were going great. Then the third quarter happened. Things got a little chippy with Al Horford, Dwight taking exception to a foul that Horford committed.

Dwight earned — and it was well earned — a technical foul for that shove. After Horford picked up his fourth foul, Dwight’s game continued to trend upwards, enjoying favorable match-ups in Horford’s absence. And then…then this happened (yay, timestamps):

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