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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…

Defeating the world champion Cleveland Cavaliers and competing step for step with Steph Curry and company seems like a far cry compared to the Hawks’ performances this season against sub .500 ball clubs. Just last Wednesday, they struggled to put away a Heat team that was missing several of its key contributors, then traveled to Milwaukee and barely gritted out a win after trailing by 20 points at halftime. Tonight, they continued their woes against sub .500 teams by trailing as much as 12 in the first half in a 131-120 loss to the 11-16 Orlando Magic.

“We have to find a way,” Tim Hardaway said. “This is not the first loss we’ve had to an under 500 team. It’s the NBA though — everybody at this level is a pro. Anybody can get 20 or 30 on any given night. We can’t look at the record, you have to instead look at the personnel. They are competing just as much as you are.”

When you trail the New Orleans Pelicans by 35 midway through an eventual 112-94 blowout , there is cause for pause. They’ve struggled against some of the worst defenses — scoring just 94 points against a 24th ranked Knicks defense — and allowing otherwise inadequate offenses to look unstoppable — Orlando averages 95 points a game despite scoring 131 on Atlanta’s defense.

You can point to several reasons as to why this has become an issue, whether it’s the 16.6 turnovers per game, 32 percent three point shooting or Coach Budenholzer’s constant lineup switch in search for reliable offensive production.

Tonight’s 15 turnovers  —resulting in 26 points for the Magic — was the biggest difference in the game and has been in several of their losses to bottom ranked teams. In the Hawks’ loss against the Suns they accumulated 20, they had 18 against the Lakers in Los Angeles and had 15 versus the Pelicans. Every team in the league loves facing a turnover prone bunch like these Hawks, because it buffers their own strengths and hides their weaknesses. Additionally, turnovers will tarnish a team’s best asset — the Hawks defense — by putting it in some tough spots in transition as a result of a lazy pass or a weak dribble-drive..

“Defense is our calling card, but we put so much pressure on our defense when we don’t get a good shot or we turn the ball over,” Kent Bazemore said. “Teams have gotten so much better in transition and it’s underrated how much that can really hurt you, because you have guys then able to get in rhythm, get mismatches, lobs at the rim and it really gets things going. So taking care of the ball is really pivotal.”

The high turnover count was present in Cleveland and the Bay; but it didn’t matter because both units were productive offensively and the defense contested the three-point line better than they have facing teams like the Magic. So who exactly are the Atlanta Hawks? 25 games into the season,Coach Budenholzer and company have yet to figure that out — no team really has frankly — but you would like to start at least begin a building process.

“The turnovers gave them confidence early on, they had some open shots and transition points,” Thabo Sefolosha said. “It definitely affects the way we play and the way they played throughout the whole game.”

For this team, it has been tough to find a balance when the offense is there one night and gone the next, which then places far too much pressure on getting defensive stops. The bench began the year playing as good as any in the league, while the starters were still finding their way. Now that has flipped, and here you have a Hawks group teetering in and out of playoff contention — unfamiliar territory given the past two years.

“This is a very deep team and we have a lot of guys who can play so it’s all about finding that rhythm as a unit”, Bazemore said. “We’ve had glimpses of both units doing well. The bench started off the season doing well, then the starters got going, so it’s a lot going on and not enough consistency. But we are not going to get it back all at once and we are still trying to figure out who we are.”

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…

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…