Nets Give Hawks Third Consecutive Loss

Monday, January 6, 2014
By Robby Kalland

Atlanta Hawks v Brooklyn Nets

The Hawks were unable to complete a fourth quarter comeback for the third straight night as the Nets and former Hawk Joe Johnson were able to win a sloppy game, 91-86. Johnson had 21 points, seven of which came in the fourth quarter, on 41.2% shooting (7-of-17). Alan Anderson was huge for the Nets with 14 points and five rebounds as he got the start in place of the injured Deron Williams, and Anderson had nine points in the Nets’ big third quarter that was the difference in the game.

Hawks vs. Nets
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The Hawks were behind for much of the first half, but closed the second quarter on an 11-0 run to take a 52-46 lead at the half. The Nets came out, led by Anderson, and opened the third quarter on a 14-0 run. The Hawks offense went stagnant through a combination of slow ball-movement and terrific Nets’ defense, and the Nets had a five-point lead entering the fourth quarter.

The Hawks were able to take a 78-77 lead for a brief moment in the fourth quarter with 6:36 to play, but in that final six-plus minutes, the Hawks were only able to score eight points as the Nets,  behind some tough shots from Johnson, pulled away for the victory.

The story of the night was the Nets’ defensive effort, and their ability to frustrate the Hawks with their length. Anderson, Paul Pierce, Andrei Kirilenko, and Shaun Livingston did great jobs all night defending on the perimeter and using their length to contest shots and disrupt passing lanes. Pierce had a quiet night offensively with just nine points, but he was a factor on the defensive end with three blocks and two steals.

Livingston and Anderson pressured Jeff Teague into seven turnovers, and the Hawks as a team had 18 turnovers that the Nets converted into 28 points. The Nets had just 12 turnovers leading to 18 Hawks points.

When the Hawks did run their sets and get shots off, they were living off of jump-shots, getting just 26 points in the paint on 34 paint shot attempts. The Hawks were a dismal 9-of-23 (39.1%) shooting in the restricted area and were only able to make 8-of-24 (33.3%) three-point attempts.

The Nets, thanks to their turnover differential, took 10 more shot attempts than did the Hawks, which meant that even shooting just 41.3% (33-of-80), the Nets still had six more made field goals than did the Hawks (27-of-70). This negated the Hawks free-throw shooting advantage, as they made 24-of-26 (92.3%) from the charity stripe, while the Nets were just 17-of-26 (65.4%).

Paul Millsap‘s shooting woes continued, as he was just 4-of-12 from the field with 16 points along with five assists and four rebounds (and four turnovers). Teague had 16 points as well, but he too shot just 33.3% (5-of-15) from the floor with five assists and the aforementioned seven turnovers.

Kyle Korver had seven points and was 1-of-5 shooting (1-of-3 from three-point range) but, along with extending his three-point streak to 104 games, added seven rebounds and six assists. Korver was hounded on the perimeter by Livingston and Pierce, who face-guarded him around screens, and the Nets were aggressive in switching pin-downs for Korver in order to get a quick contest of a shot.

The most consistent offensive players for the Hawks were Elton Brand and Mike Scott off the bench. Brand had 10 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks and was an efficient 4-for-5 shooting. Scott had nine points and four rebounds on 4-of-7 shooting.

The Hawks without Horford continue to find it difficult to get a consistent scoring presence in the post. Millsap is being keyed in on by defenses, who are pushing him away from the basket and keeping a help defender ready to contest at the rim should he face-up and drive. With Brand on the court, the balance is a bit better, as defenses have to respect his abilities as a post scorer, but with Pero Antic in the game, teams have been quicker to double Millsap, especially if Antic is not shooting well from the perimeter.

The Hawks have plenty of work to be done on the offensive end as they come back to Atlanta for two straight difficult home games against the Eastern Conference leading Pacers on Wednesday and the Rockets on Friday.

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