Archives For Lance Stephenson

Hawks Curb Stomp the Hornets

Bo Churney —  November 29, 2014

This game was a blowout, meaning there is very little to talk about and discuss from it, so excuse me while I have a little fun with this one.

The Hawks dominated the Hornets on Saturday night in Philips Arena, with a final score of 105-75. And really, the game was not even that close. The Hawks were up 80-36 at one point in the third quarter before they finally pulled the starters. For those that missed the game, here’s a visual representation of how it went down:

Yes, it was that bad. Charlotte’s offense is already awful and that was combined with missing Gary Neal and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, with the latter’s absence also creating a hole in the Hornets’ defense. The Hawks capitalized on these weaknesses and mixed it with some hot shooting, leading to a 64-28 lead at halftime where the Hawkers were shooting 61% and the Hornets were shooting 25.6%.

“That was a good effort that hopefully we can build from,” said head coach Mike Budenholzer in a very blunt statement to open his post game interview. Continue Reading…

This Week In The Southeast, the Wizards begin to look mortal. Was their hot start just the effect of an easy schedule? The Hawks are now ONE GAME behind first place in the East, have they finally figured out what caused their early season struggles? Meanwhile, Miami just can’t seem to get a winning streak going, Orlando is tumbling down, and Charlotte keeps choking on their food.

Washington Wizards, 9-5, 2nd in the East, 0-2 this week WAS

The Wizards faced two good teams this week, and they lost to both of them. After a close loss to the division rival Hawks, Washington went to Cleveland on a back to back and had a horrible night, getting blown out of the building. The Wizards still don’t have a quality win this season. Lucky for them, this isn’t college football and all that matters is how many wins you have, not the quality of them.

Atlanta Hawks, 8-6, 5th in the East, 2-1 this week ATL

Atlanta is really random to start off this season. After last week’s horrible loss to the Lakers, the Hawks responded with a big win over the Wizards, and a complete game against the Pelicans. Seriously, they might be the first team all year to say they slowed down Anthony Davis. Despite the good things this week, Atlanta did get outplayed by a pretty good Raptors team. Right now there is a ceiling on the Hawks, we just can’t figure out where it is. Continue Reading…

This Week In The Southeast, the Wizards just keep on winning, and here comes Bradley Beal. The Miami Heat had another up and down week, while their cross town rival, the Orlando Magic, look like they might be the true dark horse threat to cause problems in the Southeast. Meanwhile, the Hornets continue to struggle out of the gate, are they bad, or is it adjusting to a new roster.

Washington Wizards, 9-3, 2nd in the East, 2-1 this week WAS

Wizards fan have to be happy with the way they’re rocketing out of the gate this year. Washington is beating up on teams they’re supposed to beat, and that’s a good thing. The problem? They’ve yet to beat a single playoff team, with this week’s loss coming to the Mavericks. Beating up on bad teams is all fine and dandy, but the Wizards have had the easiest early schedule in the entire division.

Miami Heat, 8-6, 4th in the East, 3-2 this week MIA

The Heat were very up and down this week. They had a good win against Brooklyn, and a surprisingly tough Orlando Magic team, but they had a bad loss at home to the Milwaukee Bucks. While the Bucks aren’t an easy win anymore, a team of Miami’s caliber shouldn’t be losing to them.

Atlanta Hawks, 6-5, 5th in the East, 1-1 this week ATL

So….the Hawks. While falling out of second place had more to do with their lack of games this week, there is really no excuse for a loss at home to the Lakers. They managed to stay above .500 however, winning a home game against Detroit. Their next game is on Tuesday, lets see if the extra rest and practice time helps them figure out some of their early season problems. If not, a difficult four-in-five night schedule against four playoff contender could prove to be costly for Mike Budenholzer and the Hawks. Continue Reading…

Lance Stephenson?

Bo Churney —  June 10, 2014

In Zach Lowe’s super article today on Lance Stephenson, Lowe mentioned the Hawks as a potential landing spot for the unrestricted free agent.

This is not too surprising. After Kyle Korver and DeMarre Carroll, the Hawks have very little useful depth on the wing. This lack of depth led to Shelvin Mack and Lou Williams playing time at small forward, which represents a huge defensive liability for the Hawks.

Stephenson is a talented player. He can create offense for himself, has decent vision when it comes to play making, plus he possesses the athleticism and body size to be a defensive plus on the wing. Other positives with Stephenson are that he is only 23 and he has yet to play in an offensive system that even comes close to matching the dynamic offense run by Mike Budenholzer and the Hawks.

Of course, the question with Stephenson is not his talent, but his attitude and how much he should be paid. The Hawks could have around $10 million in cap space, which is within the possible range that Stephenson is expected to be paid this summer.

Would the Hawks front office, which models itself after the San Antonio Spurs, be willing to invest that amount of money in an enigmatic player? This front office let Josh Smith and Ivan Johnson, both somewhat volatile players, walk out in free agency. However, Smith and Johnson both filled a position that was not a completely dire need to the Hawks at the time. That is not the case at the wing with Stephenson. Because of Stephenson’s talent and super need on the wing, the Hawks should at least take a cursory glance toward the Pacer shooting guard during the offseason.

FINAL
Pacers win series, 4-3

IND(4-3) 95 – 80 (3-4) ATL

Key Performers:
P. George (IND): 30 pts, 11 reb, 3 ast, 2 stl
P. Millsap (ATL): 15 pts, 17 reb, 4 ast, 4 stl
[FULL BOX SCORE]

So that’s that.

The Hawks were eliminated from the playoffs on Saturday after a lid seemed to form over their basket in Indiana. The Pacer defense was good, but the Hawks continued to get open look after open look. Unfortunately for the Hawks and their fans, those shots just would not fall.

The Hawks and Pacers were essentially even through the first quarter, but the second quarter is what set this game apart. Paul George got hot, scoring 10 points in the quarter, and the Hawks became icy cold, shooting 4-for-20 from the field in the period, including a 1-for-15 stretch to close out the half. The second half was like the first quarter: essentially a tie. However, the disastrous second quarter cost the Hawks the game and effectively ended their season.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Jeff Teague: This wasn’t exactly a banner game from Jeff: 5-for-16 shooting, five turnovers, and five fouls. Like all of the Hawks, he just couldn’t get his shot to fall, and that affected Jeff more than any other Hawk, as the defense is able to close down and focus more on Teague when the shots aren’t falling. 5/10

Paul Millsap: Millsap was 6-for-21 from the field, but he did maintain his other strengths by continuously getting rebounds and jumping passing lanes. Just one note I want to take away from this game: after the way this series went, I find it odd that Millsap couldn’t get a foul call to save his life here. Not a conspiracy theory or anything, just officiating needs to be more consistent across games. 7/10

Kyle Korver: Korver was one of the only Hawks that was actually able to find the bottom of the net during the game. He finished with 19 points on 6-for-13 shooting, the best shooting by percentage of any Hawk during the game. 6.5/10

DeMarre Carroll: It wasn’t DeMarre’s game, either. Paul George was hitting some extremely tough looks over DeMarre, a matchup disadvantage that was further compounded by DeMarre going 1-for-7 from the field. 5/10

Pero Antic: Pero was 0-for-5 from the floor… yet he posted the highest plus-minus of any Hawks with a plus-2 rating. Plus-minus isn’t everything, but it does seem to be an accurate reflection of Pero’s defensive abilities when compared to Mike Scott. 5/10 Continue Reading…

RECAP: Hawks 98, Pacers 85

Bo Churney —  April 25, 2014

FINAL
Hawks lead series, 2-1

IND(1-2) 85 – 98 (2-1) ATL

Key Performers:
J. Teague (ATL): 22 pts, 2 reb, 10 ast
L. Stephenson (IND): 21 pts, 13 reb, 4 ast, 3 stl
[FULL BOX SCORE]

It was a must-win situation for the Hawks; losing meant relinquishing home-court advantage back to the Pacers. They needed a strong performance in their home building and what happened?

Jeff Teague shrugged.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

In front of a sold-out and raucous crowd, the Hawks used a 59-point second half to take a 2-1 series lead on Indiana. Jeff Teague, despite the 7-for-20 shooting night, was tremendous, as he was constantly attacking the Pacer defense. Helping out Teague were Korver and DeMarre Carroll, who combined to shoot 12-for-17 from the floor and 6-for-11 from 3-point range. They were rewarded with a trip to the podium after the game.

demarre

The Hawks now have a chance to take a commanding 3-1 series lead on Saturday.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Jeff Teague: I’m just going to let Jeff’s highlights speak here:

Like I said in the intro, I don’t care if Jeff was 7-for-20 from the field. He was extremely aggressive and produced a lot of open looks for himself and his teammates. 9/10

Paul Millsap: Millsap was a bit sloppy on the night (six turnovers), but he still managed to put up 14 points, 14 rebounds, and four assists. One of his biggest contributions was a clutch 3-pointer that he banked in as the shot clock expired. 7.5/10

Kyle Korver: Kyle finally got his shots to start going in, going 6-for-9 from the field for 20 points. He was responsible for one of the daggers in the fourth quarter, sinking an open corner 3 to give the Hawks a 12-point lead with not much time remaining. 9/10

DeMarre Carroll: In addition to scoring 18 points on 6-for-8 shooting, DeMarre held Paul George to just 12 points on 3-for-11 shooting. He had no turnovers and had a plus-16 rating for the game. It’s probably a good thing that the Hawks didn’t trade him “and more!” for Jeff Green. 10/10

Pero Antic: In 23 minutes, Pero was 0-for-5, scored on one point and only had three rebounds… yet he probably still outplayed Roy Hibbert. Hopefully Pero can get his shooting touch back soon, because he might have a couple of huge shots come his way during the rest of the series. 5/10 Continue Reading…

RECAP: Pacers 101, Hawks 85

Bo Churney —  April 23, 2014

FINAL
Series is tied, 1-1

IND(1-1) 101 – 85 (1-1) ATL   

Key Performers:
P. Millsap (ATL): 19 pts, 4 reb
P. George (IND): 27 pts, 10 reb, 6 ast, 4 stl
[FULL BOX SCORE]

That was about the worst-case scenario for the Atlanta Hawks, injury-free category. Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap were balling again in the first half, again putting the Pacers on their heels by holding the lead after both of the first two quarters. However, that all changed in the third quarter as Paul George and Indiana finally gave a glimpse of the team that we saw in the first half of the season. George’s buzzer-beating 30-foot 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter was a symbolic nail in the coffin for the Hawks, giving the Pacers a 14-point cushion heading into the fourth quarter.

Why was this the worst case scenario? It isn’t just the Pacers winning this game; it’s the way they did it. The Hawks had the lead for half of the game. To allow the Pacers to storm back and rout them could prove to be critical as the series shifts to the ATL.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Jeff Teague: Take note, Jeff Teague: the best defensive team in the league figured that its best strategy for limiting the Hawks was to stick one of the best perimeter defenders in the game in your path. Take that as a huge compliment. How did Teague respond? In the first half — and the first quarter in particular — Teague did exactly as he did in Game 1. He let his teammates open up lanes with their spacing, then he broke down the defense by getting into the lane. In the second half, Teague had less success, going 1-for-5 from the field as Indiana’s defensive unit clamped down and the Hawks started to miss their open shots. Overall, I still think Teague played well. 8/10

Paul Millsap: Like Teague, Millsap continued his great work from Game 1 into the first half of this game. He hit two 3-pointers, he had a couple of great takes to the basket, and he was getting to the line, all three of which are things that he is going to need to do for the Hawks to win this season. Unfortunately, also like Teague, Millsap could not get the mojo going in the second half, resulting in the Hawks losing the third quarter 31-13. 7.5/10

Kyle Korver: Korver went 1-for-5 in this game, which is something that the Hawks absolutely cannot afford for him to do. The Pacers did a good job as a whole of keeping Korver from getting open, so when Korver actually is able to get free, he’s got to connect. Hopefully the 1-for-5 night (and 3-for-12 start from 3 so far this postseason) proves to be an aberration. 5/10

DeMarre Carroll: With Paul George guarding Teague for most of the game, I thought DeMarre might be able to take advantage of having a combination of Lance Stephenson and George Hill on him. He and the team really couldn’t take advantage of this, however, and at least two of his five shot attempts on the night were extremely forced. I would be interested to see if the Hawks are able to adjust and try to open up for cutting space for DeMarre in Game 3. 9/10

Pero Antic: With how many open looks Pero is likely to get in this series, they are going to need him to do better than 2-for-9 from the floor and 1-for-5 from 3. He did good defensively, but this series quite literally depends on Pero’s ability to stretch the floor. 5/10 Continue Reading…

RECAP: Pacers 108, Hawks 98

Bo Churney —  February 19, 2014

FINAL

IND(41-12) 108 – 98 (25-27)ATL    

Key Performers:
P. George (IND): 26 pts, 2 reb, 3 ast, 3 stl
K. Korver (ATL): 19 pts, 4 reb, 5 ast
[FULL BOX SCORE]

I guess there is some solace to be taken in that the Hawks were even in this game in the fourth quarter? The Pacers started off red-hot from the field, making 13 of their first 14 shot attempts. At one point in the first quarter, Indiana led the Hawks 31-9. The Hawks battled back to make it a 56-49 game at half, however, largely behind the efforts of Shelvin Mack and Lou Williams off of the bench. Coach Bud’s squad was essentially able to keep it in single-digits until the fourth quarter, when the massive amount of turnovers (22) finally allowed the Pacers to take a substantial lead with very little time remaining. The Pacers scored 35 points off of those 22 ATL turnovers. The Hawks are now on a six game losing streak and this game against Indiana was the first of a four-game/five-night set for Atlanta.

Reaction grades [assessed 0-10]:

Paul Millsap: At one point, I thought things couldn’t get worse for Millsap in this game… but then Gustavo Ayon got injured, leaving Elton Brand as the team’s only healthy center. This meant that Millsap was often matched up against Roy Hibbert, who is just simply to big for Millsap to cover without expending all of his energy. Paul finished with just seven points on 10 shots and simply looked overwhelmed. 3/10

Cartier Martin: Cartier got the start for the injured DeMarre Carroll and he actually had a decent night. He didn’t score that much until the fourth quarter, but his major weakness (defense) really wasn’t exposed too much by Paul George and the Pacer attack. Yes, George had 26 points, but a few of those makes were on rather tough shots that George managed to knock down. We also got to see Cartier finish the game at power forward because the Hawks were simply that parched for big men after Ayon’s injury. 6/10

Kyle Korver: Korver had three turnovers, which was partially because Jeff Teague didn’t really feel like playing point guard tonight. Off of that, Korver hit 5-for-7 from three-point range and was a large reason why the Hawks were able to turn the 22 point Indiana lead into just a single-digit deficit. 7.5/10

Jeff Teague: Usually players are excited to be playing back in their hometown. Teague takes on the opposite persona. Jeff looked extremely passive all night and the result was that the Hawks played a lot better when either Shelvin Mack or Lou Williams were running the point. I know part of Teague’s struggles are related to the absence of Al Horford, but he’s been consistently outplayed by Shelvin for the better part of two months now. This is probably why, as Zach Lowe commented the other day, Danny Ferry isn’t exactly in love with Jeff Teague’s contract anymore. 1/10

Gustavo Ayon: Can the Hawks get a center that can consistently make a layup? Both Ayon and Brand had trouble finishing near the rim in this one. Gustavo’s night was cut short, however, as a rather impressive block that he made on Roy Hibbert caused him to injure his shoulder. His status is currently unknown. 3/10 Continue Reading…

FINAL

IND(38-10) 89 – 85 (25-22)ATL

Key Performers:
D. West (IND): 22 pts, 10 reb, 2 ast, 2 stl
M. Scott (ATL): 15 pts, 5 reb, 2 ast
[FULL BOX SCORE]

The Hawks had plenty of chances they could have just rolled over and died tonight. It was nice to see that they never did. The Pacers would go up big and the Hawks would come roaring big. After a solid 1st half it looked like the Hawks might be able to hang around the entire game. Then the seconnd half happened… it was ugly. The ball movement and defense that had kept the Pacers off balance was no longer effective. The Pacers locked the Hawks down and midway through the fourth it looked over. Then the Hawks came right back.

With the game within four the Pacers called a timeout. They came out of the timeout with a David West jump shot and a Paul George fastbreak slam dunk. Once again, the game looked over. But again, the Hawks came right back. With Atlanta within two, CJ Watson was going to the line to shoot free throws for the Pacers. He made the first and missed the second. Atlanta grabbed the rebound and made a curious decision. The Hawks, fans, and hell, even the Pacers all expected Coach Mike Budenholzer to call a timeout. Coach Bud opted to not call a timeout. The only reason I can think of is that he wanted to catch the Pacers defense off guard; this didn’t work, the Hawks look confused and unprepared. The Pacers fouled the Hawks before they could shoot a three.

While the late game execution was not good, it was nice to see the Hawks show a special kind of mental toughness tonight. Yes, mental toughness can be a lame narrative, but it has merit when you see a team not get discouraged despite constant deficits throughout the game against the best team in the league.

Reaction grades [assessed 0-10]:

Paul Millsap: Millsap has had better days. Tasked with the job of guarding Roy Hibbert at times, and David West most of the night, Millsap was clearly over matched. West took advantage of whomever was defending him all night going 10-for-19 with 22 points and a lot of that was with Millsap guarding him. While Millsap did spend time guarding both players, he can’t let his matchup torch him like that. He didn’t do anything on the offensive end to make up for it going 2-for-11 from the field for seven points. 2/10

DeMarre Carroll: Bad news, Carroll 3-for-8 from the field and was not very useful on offense. Good news, Paul George went 6-for-18 from the field and had to work hard for most of his 18 points. A lot of that had to do with Carroll playing solid defense on him all night. 7.5/10

Kyle Korver: Korver got to game number 116 in his three-point streak early in the game. Unfortunately, that was the only three pointer he made all night. Korver didn’t do much to hurt the Hawks, but he didn’t do much to help them either. He was just kind of out there for most of the night, which is probably part of the reason Budenholzer decided not to re-insert him late in the game. 4/10

Jeff Teague: Teague had a really strong start and the Pacers clearly noticed. Teague went 4-for-6 from the field to start the game and was doing some real damage to the Pacers with his penetration. The Pacers knew that Teague was the source of the Hawks strong 1st half so in the 2nd half they smothered him. Teague struggled penetrating the rest of the night and went 0-for-2 from the field with zero points in the second half. 6/10

Gustavo Ayon: Goose got the start tonight and had a fantastic 1st half. Going 3-for-5 from the field (it would have been 4-for-5 had he made a wide open jumpshot) and making some nice passes. His defense was solid and he fit in with the offense well. I have no idea why he rarely played in the second half after such a strong 1st half. He played 17 minutes total and 14 of them came in the 1st half. 7/10 Continue Reading…

RECAP: Hawks 97, Pacers 87

Bo Churney —  January 8, 2014

FINAL

   IND.gif(28-7) 87 – 97 (19-17)ATL

Key Performers:
K. Korver (ATL): 17 pts, 2 reb, 2 ast
P. George (IND): 28 pts, 12 reb, 3 ast, 2 stl
[FULL BOX SCORE]

Sure, Indiana was on the second game of a back-to-back. Yes, Lance Stephenson didn’t play due to a right knee contusion. However, the Hawks — sans Horford — still looked pretty damn great against one of the best teams in the league. The Hawks opened the game on a 12-0 run, which included eight points from Pero Antic, and never looked back in the wire-to-wire victory. Antic and Elton Brand made Roy Hibbert an absolute non-factor, and DeMarre Carroll kept Paul George under wraps until the latter part of the second half. Every Hawk that entered the game scored at least five points and had at least one dime. Overall, it was a great team effort for the Hawks in a somewhat dominating victory.

Reaction grades [assessed 0-10]:

Paul Millsap: Rough night shooting for Paul, who shot 1-for-10 from the floor. He contributed in other areas though, putting up five assists against zero turnovers and generally playing good defense on David West. Millsap has shot 13-for-54 (24%) in his last four games, so hopefully this 1-for-10 is a bottoming-out and he can return to his normal shooting percentages soon. 5.5/10

DeMarre Carroll: Between Robby Kalland and I sitting on media row, we had at least 10 instances of us saying to each other, “Why is DeMarre dribbling?” It got so bad at one point that Coach Bud even called a timeout as soon as DeMarre tried dribbling against Paul George’s press defense. All of that aside, DeMarre had a great game, scoring well in transitioning, jumping the passing lanes correctly, and playing strong defense on Paul George, who took 25 shots to get his 28 points. Coach said of DeMarre, “On an individual basis, [DeMarre] really set the tone for us with his defense and activity.” 9/10

Pero Antic: As the Hawks official Twitter account tweeted earlier, is this the start of the Pero Antic “Rookie of the Month” campaign? Pero poured in another 16 points tonight, and his defense on Hibbert was especially strong. Pero also led the team with a plus-20 rating. 8.5/10

Jeff Teague: Sidenote on the “Why is DeMarre dribbling?” mention earlier: Jeff needs to have better awareness on going and getting the ball from his teammates when they are in a bit of trouble. Other than that, just an OK night from Jeff, who took a shot to head at the end of the game. Jeff said he was fine afterwards in the locker room, saying that he got hit on the cheek, which should relieve fans of possible concussion fears. 6.5/10

Kyle Korver: Korver extended his streak to 105 games, which he did on a four-point play in the third quarter. The Hawks rode Korver’s hot hand on the second half, as Kyle scored 15 points on just six shots in those 24 minutes of play. 8.5/10 Continue Reading…