Archives For LeBron James

After missing his first five shots, all 3-point attempts, Kyle Korver hit a pair of threes early in the fourth quarter as the Atlanta Hawks opened up a 91-81 lead en route to a 106-97 win over the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers. Al Horford led the Hawks with 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting with a game-high nine rebounds. Kyrie Irving scored a game-high 20 points with four assists in the losing effort and LeBron James added 18 points, six rebounds and eight assists with nine turnovers.

The Hawks started out smoking hot, leading 36-19 behind nine points on 4-for-5 shooting and four rebounds in the first quarter from Horford. Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague added eight points each. Kevin Love led the Cavaliers with seven points and two rebounds in the quarter while LeBron James started off shooting just 1-for-5. The Hawks recorded ten assists and only two turnovers in the period while the Cavaliers did not record an assist. The Hawks shot 71% from the field in the quarter and 50% from 3-point range. The Cavs shot just 40% from the field and 2-for-8 (25%) from three.

The Hawks appeared to be closing the half strong as a 6-0 run culminated with a 19-footer from Horford to put Atlanta ahead 53-38 with 2:05 remaining. Then referee Tony Brothers made a questionable goaltending call on a Timofey Mozgov layup and Iman Shumpert hit a three to pull the Cavs within 53-43 at halftime. The Hawks shot 0-for-5 from 3-point range in the second period as the Cavaliers heated up, shooting 5-for-8 as they trimmed Atlanta’s lead. Continue Reading…

When the NBA season began, national analysts were divided on the question of whether the Hawks would make the playoffs. HawksHoop.com projected the Hawks to be contenders for the top overall seed in the Eastern Conference. Nobody predicted the Hawks would be nine games up on second place and possessors of the NBA’s best winning percentage almost three quarters of the way through the season. However, since HawksHoop predicted the Hawks’ trajectory more accurately than most, I thought I’d explain why setting the bar high seemed like a good idea.

We all know the monkey on the Hawks’ back is the failure to advance past the second round of the playoffs since moving to Atlanta. There have been chances. In 1988, the Dominique Wilkins-led Hawks beat the Celtics in Boston to go up 3-2 in the second round. The Hawks lost Games 6 & 7 by two points apiece. In 2011, the Hawks tied their second round series with the Bulls 2-2 behind 23 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists from Josh Smith. Smith shot 5-for-19 outside the paint over the final three games and Jamal Crawford shot 3-for-19 from the field (0-for-7 from 3-point range) in Games 5 & 6 as Chicago eliminated Atlanta.

Perhaps the team’s best chance to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals since 1988 happened in 2012. The Hawks faced an aging Celtics team in the first round as it had in the second round 24 years earlier. Atlanta lost Game 2 and surrendered home court advantage, but had a chance to win it back in Game 3. Rajon Rondo failed to record a single basket or assist in Game 3 while guarded by Kirk Hinrich. Larry Drew made the brilliant decision to sit Hinrich in favor of Jannero Pargo and Willie Green in the fourth quarter and overtime. Continue Reading…

The Western Conference All-Stars defeated the Eastern Conference All-Stars 163-158 on Sunday night in Madison Square Garden behind game-MVP Russell Westbrook’s 41-point performance. LeBron James led the East squad with 30 points.

Of course, this is a Hawks blog, so the focus here is going to be how Al Horford, Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap, and Kyle Korver performed over anything else. Despite the loss, it’s safe to say that those four represented Atlanta well and gave the city something to be proud of.

Horford was the first Hawk to enter the game, as he did so with Kyrie Irving about seven minutes into the first quarter. This felt like a surprise, because the general thought was before the game that Budenholzer might insert all four Hawks at once. However, it did not take long for the rest of the Hawks to see the floor, as Teague, Millsap, and Korver joined Horford and Irving on the floor about a minute of game time later. Those four played the remainder of the quarter and we did not see four Hawks on the floor again until the third quarter when they took the floor with LeBron James.

Korver had the most notable performance of any Hawks player, as quick-paced nature of the All-Star game suits his style perfectly. Korver scored 21 points in 16 minutes and was 7-for-12 from 3-point land for the game. Continue Reading…

Shelvin Mack had sat out the past two games because of the Hawks’ superb depth at point guard with Jeff Teague and Dennis Schröder. With Teague on the sidelines due to a hamstring strain, Mack had an opportunity to make an impact on Wednesday night against LeBron and the Cavaliers.

And boy did he do just that.

Mack scored a career-high 24 points off the bench, including 17 points and a 5-for-5 performance from 3 in the second quarter that swung the game in the Hawks’ favor. After trailing by 12 in the second, the Hawks rallied to take a 65-60 lead into halftime. Mack’s play translated to the rest of the Hawks in the second half, as Atlanta outscored Cleveland 62-38 in the final 24 minutes to give the Hawks a 127-98 victory.

The Hawks took control in the third quarter by continuously running plays targeting Kevin Love on defense. Paul Millsap and Al Horford accounted for seven straight Atlanta field goals in a span where the Hawks expanded their lead to double-digits. Horford finished with 20 points and four assists, while Millsap tallied 14 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. Continue Reading…

In front of a sellout crowd of 20,562, the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Atlanta Hawks 127-94.

Mike Budenholzer and the Hawks came into the game with a better record than the Cavs, but it didn’t take long to see who the better team really was. The Cavs went on a 21-1 run in through the middle of the second quarter, which turned a 16-point lead into an insurmountable 35-point deficit.

Paul Millsap led the Hawks in scoring with 16 points on 7-for-13 shooting to go along with seven boards, four helpers, a steal and a block. Sadly for Atlanta, only he and Al Horford seemed like they were ready for the game. Horford scored 12 points on 6-10 shooting in 19 minutes. In a surprising twist, Kyle Korver — who is one of the best shooters in the NBA — only had one shot attempt and added one assist. It’s strange to see a Korver stat line full of zeros.

Hawks were out of the game so early that coach Budenholzer decided to sit Korver for the entire second half. “Korver is fine, the game was out of reach so we wanted to try some other guys out there,” said Budenholzer after the game.

Cavs hit their first 11 3-pointers, including a fadeaway 3 at the end of the first quarter by rookie Joe Harris. “There isn’t much you can do when a guy is hitting shots like that at end of the quarter,” said Jeff Teague, who scored five points and tallied three assists. “We got discouraged out there when they started hitting those shots, we started putting our heads down and it just got worse.” Continue Reading…

Another Chance for Al Horford

Cole Patty —  October 31, 2014 — 3 Comments

Most people are familiar with Murphy’s Law or at least the current version of “whatever can go wrong will go wrong.” Commonly said in situations by the Average Joe on one of the days where the bad luck comes in bunches; it’s almost as if the forces of the universe just won’t let something nice happen to them, no matter how much good karma they may have built up.

Al Horford may be a two-time All-Star, but his career also feels like the embodiment of this law. Every time Horford gets a bit of momentum going towards finally becoming the superstar he plays like, something bad seems to happen. On top of that, he is mostly overlooked in the “best center in the East” discussions, he wasn’t named an All-Star during a great 2012-13 campaign, and was constantly overshadowed during his career by the more bombastic Josh Smith. In fact, most of the mainstream media coverage on Horford is about why he should be playing power forward instead of mentioning that he is a matchup nightmare for his larger stone footed counterparts.

As for Murphy’s Law, Horford’s injuries have stifled his growth towards becoming a superstar. When Atlanta powered on to the 5-seed in the strike shortened 2011-12 seasons, Continue Reading…

On July 27th, Paul Millsap was added to Team USA’s provisional roster due to players like Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, and LaMarcus Aldridge deciding to forgo participation in the FIBA World Cup this summer.

Little more than a week later, Millsap was announced as one of coach Mike Krzyzewski’s first round of cuts, along with Washington’s John Wall and Bradley Beal. Among those selected over Millsap were Denver’s Kenneth Faried and Brooklyn’s Mason Plumlee.

At the time, there was not too much of a problem with this. Even with Paul George’s gruesome injury, the lynchpin for Team USA seemed to be one thing: they still had Kevin Durant. The problem with this thinking today is that the team no longer has Durant to rely on.

It was announced on Thursday that Durant would withdraw from Team USA participation, citing mental and physical exhaustion. While there is some speculation that this might have something to do with Durant being offered a $300+ million endorsement deal with Under Armour, there is plenty of merit for Durant needing some time off. Continue Reading…

FINAL

MIA(54-26) 85 – 98 (37-43)ATL

Key Performers:
J. Teague (ATL): 25 pts, 4 reb, 3 ast, 4 stl
L. James (MIA): 27 pts, 8 reb, 5 ast
[FULL BOX SCORE]

The Hawks won their third straight game, with this victory over the Heat clinching the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The win is thanks to Jeff Teague, who was extremely aggressive in attacking the basket nearly the whole night. He wasn’t really attacking in the fourth quarter, but that’s because Lou “Chicken Man” Williams was cooking up something extra crispy. Williams had 23 points on the night, 18 of which were scored in the game’s final period. Lou actually completely closed the game for the Hawks, scoring the team’s final 12 points after the 2:54 mark to thwart any chance of a Miami comeback.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Paul Millsap: Millsap was rather quiet on the night, only putting up 11 points, eight rebounds, and five assists, which broke his streak of seven consecutive double-doubles. One thing of concern: Millsap appeared to twist his ankle in the fourth quarter, but he remained in the game. It will be interesting to see if the Hawks decide to rest him over the final two games. 7/10

Jeff Teague: Teague was attacking the basket with AUTHORITY on several occasions, putting up a couple of highlight and-one finishes that got the Hawks contingent of the crowd to make some noise. “He always sets the tone when get gets out there and is aggressive and he pushes the tempo,” said Paul Millsap of his starting point guard. “He attack and he attacks. It’s good for us. It’s what we need from him.” So… how about some of that same aggressive stuff in the playoffs, Jeffrey? 9.5/10

Elton Brand: With Pero Antic sitting out, Elton Brand had to start for a second consecutive game. He played 27 minutes and made his defensive presence known when he had a highlight reel block on a LeBron James layup attempt in the first quarter. 7/10

DeMarre Carroll: LeBron turned it up a bit at the end of the game, but for most of the game, DeMarre played great defense on the league’s best player. DeMarre made LeBron work for each and every bucket when he was on the floor. On offense, DeMarre had five turnovers, but he also hit three 3-pointers and was an overall plus on that end, too. 9/10

Kyle Korver: Really quiet night from Korver; only four points and three rebounds. Wade was scoring early, but that was more a factor of Wade hitting jumpers than of poor defensive play by Korver. 3/10 Continue Reading…

RECAP: Hawks 121, Heat 114

Bo Churney —  January 20, 2014 — 1 Comment

FINAL

MIA(29-12) 114 – 121 (21-19)ATL

Key Performers:
P. Millsap (ATL): 26 pts, 7 reb, 4 ast
L. James (MIA): 30 pts, 4 reb, 6 ast
[FULL BOX SCORE]

The Hawks broke their nine game losing streak against the Heat on Monday, defeating Miami 121-114. The Hawks were bolstered by strong bench play, as the quartet of Elton Brand, Mike Scott, Lou Williams, and Shelvin Mack combined for 45 points and 14 assists. Mack’s play was especially strong, as he eventually replaced an ineffective Jeff Teague and ran the Hawks’s offense for most of the second half.

The credit for the Hawks win may lie with Atlanta’s improved defensive effort after the 71-70 lightning storm of a first half. “Two 22-point quarters,” said Coach Budenholzer about his team’s defensive effort, “is a real positive for our group, to be able to find a way to get some stops against a very talent, well-coached team.” The Hawks forced 12 turnovers in the half and limited the Heat to 4-for-16 three-point shooting, which is a large change from five turnovers and 11-for-17 three-point shooting in the first half.

Reaction grades [assessed 0-10]:

Paul Millsap: Millsap continues to play well against the Miami Heat. In this game, Millsap had 26 points, seven rebounds, and four dimes. Much of his work came down low, where he was awarded with 11 free throws, of which he made 10. Eventually, his effort in the paint caused Miami to direct more attention to the ATL big man, something that resulted in Kyle Korver getting open for the dagger three-pointer in the fourth quarter. 9.5/10

Pero Antic: Foul trouble limited Pero’s minutes, but he played fantastic offensively. He started out strong, scoring 10 of the team’s first 15 points. He finished with 17 points overall, which is a career-high. However, he struggled defensively, as Chris Bosh presented a very unique challenge for the Macedonian center. 7/10

DeMarre Carroll: LeBron may have scored 30 points, but it was a pretty great overall game from DeMarre; LeBron had a couple of makes that were not DeMarre’s fault. Possibly the key in the ATL victory from the Junkyard Dog was that he hit his open looks, going 8-for-13 from the field for 19 points. 8/10

Jeff Teague: This might be the worst game of basketball we’ve seen from Jeff Teague this year. He was just 1-for-7 from the field — but with six assists — before he was benched in favor of Shelvin Mack in the second half. The Hawks really need Teague to find his shot if they want to be as successful as possible. 2/10

Kyle Korver: The Heat gave a lot of attention to Korver in this game and it opened up the floor a lot for the Hawks. Korver ended up with six assists, and the team had a plus-15 rating when he was on the floor. He also extended his three-point streak to 109 games. 8/10 Continue Reading…

This is not a good time for the Hawks to be facing the two-time defending champions.

Atlanta did recently slay the Pacers and Rockets at home, but those two games are the Hawks’ only wins in their past seven games. The Hawks are currently on a two-game losing streak after a loss in Memphis and a beatdown in London from the Brooklyn Nets. A loss against the Heat would send Atlanta back to .500 and possibly down to fifth in the East if Washington wins against the 76ers this afternoon.

So what can the Hawks do to pull off an upset against Miami? Well for one, the home team will have DeMarre Carroll back, as he missed Thursday’s game in London because of the birth of his daughter. Carroll should help bolster the Atlanta defense that had huge troubles with Joe Johnson in London and would have had enormous problems with LeBron James without Carroll in the lineup.

The Hawks will also hope to take advantage of a Miami defense that is slightly down this year. Of course, the Heat are still top 10 in defensive efficiency (10th per Basketball-Reference), but Miami is giving up a full point more per 100 possessions than last season, and four points more than two seasons ago. One of Miami’s big holes has been three-point defense, where they rank in the bottom 10 of the league by allowing opponents to shoot 36.8% from behind the arc. While this may point to a big night for Kyle Korver, that’s not necessarily what the Hawks need; the Hawks will need their secondary three-point shooters — Jeff Teague, Pero Antic, and Carroll — to hit the open looks that they get. Teague, who is in one of the worst shooting slumps of his career, is currently shooting just 25% from three-point land this season, with his problem seemingly being a proclivity to come up short on above-the-break threes. Continue Reading…