Coach Bud Gets First Career Win As Head Coach
The Hawks bounced back after an opening night loss in Dallas to get a 102-95 victory in the home opener against the Raptors. Both teams came out aggressive in the first quarter, and after 17 lead changes the Hawks were able to take a 25-24 lead into the second. Toronto got a 35-31 lead with five minutes left in the second quarter, but the Hawks closed the half on an 18-4 run led by Al Horford and Jeff Teague to take a 49-39 halftime lead. The Hawks led by as many as 18 in the third quarter, but DeMar DeRozan caught fire, scoring 23 of his 31 points in the second half to keep the Raptors within striking distance.
|Hawks vs. Raptors|
The Hawks countered DeRozan’s hot start by taking DeMarre Carroll off of Rudy Gay and switching him onto DeRozan. Carroll did a better job denying DeRozan the ball and forced the Raptors to look for other scoring options, which proved difficult. Kyle Lowry was the Raptors second best scorer, with 16 points on 5-7 shooting and went 3-5 from three. However, when the Raptors turned to Gay, he struggled to deliver consistently and finished with 14 points on 6-23 shooting.
A nice fourth quarter from Paul Millsap and a few clutch free throws from Teague in the final minutes sealed the Hawks’ win. Millsap scored six of his 15 points in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter.
The focus for the Hawks for the past two days was on transition defense, which they were very successful with against Toronto, holding them to just eight fast-break points.
“I think there was an attention to getting back and make sure we were showing a crowd,” Coach Bud said. “Like we talked about before the game, that’s where defense starts. We have to make that a priority. That’s what we did there.”
Teague finished the night with a double-double with 17 points and 12 assists. He struggled from the field, shooting 4-13, but was very aggressive getting into the paint and got himself to the free throw line nine times, converting eight of those chances. After a six-turnover night against the Mavericks, Teague had just one turnover to his 12 assists tonight. After the game, Coach Bud said the turnovers from the previous game didn’t worry him because they were because Teague was being aggressive rather than making poor decisions. Tonight, Teague was able to balance being aggressive with ball security, finding open shooters and slipping passes to bigs when their defenders rotated to help on a drive.
Horford had a monster night on both ends of the floor and finished with 22 points and 16 rebounds. Like in Dallas, Al was excellent again defensively and dealt with the size of Jonas Valanciunas very well, limiting him to four points on 2-5 shooting in the brief 17 minutes he was on the court. Horford (and Millsap’s) speed frustrated Valanciunas and forced Raptors coach Dwayne Casey to look for other options.
“The game was so fast. [Valanciunas] ended up having to guard Millsap and Al. We were trying to find a matchup for him, but we had to go small to keep up in transition.”
Horford used that quickness on the offensive end to get good looks at the basket. He attacked early and was decisive in his moves in the post and on face-ups. After a rough go of it in Dallas, Horford was much more effective and efficient, scoring his 22 points on 9-14 shooting. As to what changed for Horford, Coach Bud pointed to him being more aggressive and getting looks in different places on the court.
“Al’s entire game, he was pretty amazing. He was a man tonight and kind of put us on his shoulders. I think he was more assertive, more decisive in making his moves and got shots in different spots on the floor and played well in the post. So I think overall, he got a follow dunk and scored a lot of different ways, I felt like he was really decisive in making his decisions and making his moves.”
Kyle Korver continued his three-point streak on the first Hawks’ possession with a top of the key three, getting to 75 consecutive games with a made three. Korver had 17 points and went 5-8 from three-point range after getting just one three-point attempt in Dallas. A better offensive flow and less of an emphasis on defending him tightly were what Korver said made the biggest difference from the Dallas game to tonight.
“I definitely got more open looks. The spacing I think helped. Dallas was just locked in on me, which is fine. Tonight we got out in transition more and got more easier looks. We’re starting to execute better. Probably a combination of a lot of things.”
Having that first win under their belt seems to have relieved the team, and as Horford said, it was much needed to get this one at home.
“I was thinking, ‘Man you can’t go on the road 0-2, you can’t’ and this was a must win game for us.”
The Hawks, now 1-1, will head onto the road for a west coast swing that starts in Los Angeles on Sunday.
Tweet of the Night
— James Spencer (@JSpencer_24) November 2, 2013
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