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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!

Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks dropped their second game in a row since the All-Star break ended, losing 105-86 against the Orlando Magic on Saturday evening. Terrence Ross led the Magic with 24 points while Nikola Vučević added 16 points and 14 rebounds. For the Hawks, THJ led the way with 15 points while Dwight Howard, Dennis Schröder, Paul Millsap and Taurean Prince (who was probably the only bright spark from last night) all scored 11 points each.

Bad Q3 leads to another blowout

The Hawks found themselves in an 11 point hole early in this game but did very well in the second quarter to not only to fight back but to take nine point lead for themselves. The defense was rolling, it looked like the Hawks had figured out their issues. But then Dwight Howard picked up his third personal foul with 4:23 left in the half and the Magic proceeded with a 16-5 run to take a three point lead into the half with Dwight picking up a fourth foul before the half ended.

“I thought the loose ball foul just under the five minute mark was tough. We were up nine. He gets the rebound and goes back up and we are up 11. Then they just beat us to a couple rebounds and another foul and they drive it and he gets his fourth. Them getting to the free-throw line was a big part of that 16-5 run.”

— Coach Mike Budenholzer

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(AP Photo/John Amis)

The Atlanta Hawks brushed aside the Orlando Magic, 113-86, on Saturday evening at Philips Arena in a wire-to-wire victory. The Magic were led by Aaron Gordon’s 16 points while both Jeff Green and Elfrid Payton added 12 points. For the Hawks, five players scored in double digits, Paul Millsap leading the way with 21 points in three quarters.

Dennis Schröder registered a double-double, 17 points and 10 assists, one of which was an absolute beauty.

Oh, yes.

Hawks’ heavy lifting in first half leads them to victory

How long have folks wanted to see the Hawks actually start a game with energy? Well, fans got their wish last night, the Hawks flew out the traps, making 13 of their first 15 shots. The Hawks quickly ran out to a 13-4 lead forcing Magic coach Frank Vogel into a timeout, one of the many timeouts he would call in the first half. The Hawks would finish the first quarter with 35 points on 68% shooting while assisting on 12 of their 15 made baskets. For reference, the Hawks registered just 13 total assists last Wednesday against the Miami Heat, so it was good to see the ball moving as it was.

The Hawks built upon their 11 point lead in the second quarter, stretching it to 17 points by the 5:30 mark before making a 20 point game and then, just to cap off a great half for the Hawks on both sides of the floor, the Hawks ended the quarter on a 9-0 run behind a Tim Hardaway Jr. three-pointer to take a 26 point lead into the locker room at the half.

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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.”

Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks’ two game winning patch was scuppered by the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night, the Hawks falling 131-120 (no, that’s not a misprint) to their division rivals. Serge Ibaka led the Magic with 29 points while Elfrid Payton recorded career highs in both points (26) and assists (14).

Understanding what on earth happened and why it happened

Heading into last night’s game, the Orlando Magic were averaging just 94.8 points per game, that ranks 29th in the league. Only the Dallas Mavericks — at 93.5 PPG — average less points per game than the Magic. Last night, the Magic scored 131 points, 36 points more than their average. 131 points… without, arguably, their best offensive in Nikola Vucevic who sat this one out. How did this happen? And why?

There’s a number of factors at play here. First of all, it’s an 82 game season. All teams will have at least one game like this where all their previous percentages just seem to fly out the window and they play an absolute stormer. This was that game for the Magic last night. It’s very, very unlikely they will have a better statistical night than they did last night, at least this season. I mean, take a look at their seasonal averages compared to their numbers from last night’s game.

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The Atlanta Hawks bounced back from their disappointing overtime loss to the Orlando Magic with a blowout victory on the road against the Chicago Bulls, 113-90. The Hawks now head into the All-Star break with a 31-24 record, good enough for fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Tiago Splitter once again sat out with a hip injury, while All-Star Jimmy Butler also missed out with a knee strain that will keep him from participating in the All-Star Game on Sunday.

Heading into the All-Star break on a positive note

It’s been a tough month and a bit for the Hawks. After heading into the new year with a 21-13 record, (prior to this game) the Hawks have gone 9-11 since. Heading into this game, the Hawks had lost five of their last eight games. It was, therefore, important that the Hawks head into the All-Star break on a positive note (with a win) and that’s exactly what they did — blowing out the Bulls in their own building.

In addition to all of this, you have the trade chatter going on (which has gotten very loud in Atlanta over the last few days), with Al Horford and Jeff Teague in the depths of trade rumours. Trade talk can distract, even derail, a team from playing their best basketball, but this was not the case at all for the Hawks last night. They didn’t look distracted, they looked together. That made this road win even more impressive.

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The Atlanta Hawks dropped their second consecutive game against the Orlando Magic in a heartbreaker at Philips Arena — 116-110 in overtime. The loss ties up the season series between the two at 2-2, after the Hawks won the first two fixtures.

A 20 point lead blown

The Hawks started this game off so well — it was the kind of first quarter response you would expected from a team who were beaten the night before on a buzzer beating shot. The Hawks came roaring out of the gate and took the Magic by storm — building up a 20 point lead with 3:40 remaining in the first quarter. It felt like this was going to be a classic revenge game, but the Magic never gave up. Jason Smith checked into the game and kept the Magic in striking distance, as he knocked down five of his seven shots in the first half for 10 points.

After the Magic had trimmed the Hawks’ lead to 13 by half time, the Hawks quickly stretched the lead back to 18 in the third quarter. But the Magic, once again, refused to to go down without a fight. Nikola Vucevic (who only scored three points in the first half on 1-of-4 shooting) exploded in the third quarter for 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting, and the Hawks’ lead heading into the fourth quarter stood at 11 points.

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The Hawks suffered a heart-breaker on Super Bowl Sunday, losing 96-94 to the Magic on a buzzer-beater by Nikola Vucevic. Just a day later, the Hawks would get another shot at Orlando, but this time at home in a game that you would figure would favor the Hawks.

Well, it didn’t.

The Hawks opened the game looking like they were ready to run the Magic out of the building, starting up with a 26-8 run. 3-pointers were falling, the defense was swarming, and Atlanta simply looked like the team that won 60 games in the 2014-15 season. What happened after was a gradual and slow-burn collapse that saw the Magic finally take the lead in the final minutes of regulation, and eventually the victory in overtime.

“I think we’ve got to be better late in games,” said an exasperated Mike Budenholzer. “Myself, the players, everybody; we’ve got to be better.”

The collapse started on the defensive end in the second half, as the Hawks gave up 60 total points in the third and fourth quarters. The Magic particularly killed the Hawks on the inside, with a 12-for-18 shooting performance in the paint for the half. The inside game was compliment with outside shooting, as Vucevic knocked down the mid-range shots, and the rest of the team complemented with timely 3-pointers. Continue Reading…