Hawks’ Magic Number At Three After Sunday

Monday, April 7, 2014
By Jaryd Wilson
Hawks’ Magic Number At Three After Sunday

Sunday was a good day for the Atlanta Hawks.

They came into the day ahead of the New York Knicks by one game for the eighth and final playoff spot, though that was a bit deceiving.  The Knicks had two more losses, and the Hawks are guaranteed to win the tiebreaker (conference record), so it was really three games.

After New York’s loss to Miami and Atlanta’s win in Indiana, it’s technically four now.

Four, meaning that’s the number of games the Hawks would have to lose to have a chance at not making the playoffs, and that’s assuming the Knicks win their final four games, all against Eastern Conference playoff teams.

The Hawks finish with Detroit, Boston, Miami and Charlotte at home and trips to Brooklyn and Milwaukee.  The Knicks close with Chicago and Toronto at home, and trips to Brooklyn and Toronto.

At this point, it looks likely that the Hawks, with a more favorable schedule to finish the season, are in position to make it for the seventh straight season.  Playing .500 ball over the final six games is all it will take to clinch, although head coach Mike Budenholzer will obviously want better results than that.  Throughout the home stretch he’s been saying that the primary focus is getting better and building winning habits, and that will continue to be the focus down the stretch.  Do that, and Atlanta should be in.

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Hawks Dominate Pacers in Indiana

Sunday, April 6, 2014
By Robby Kalland
Hawks Dominate Pacers in Indiana

The Hawks (34-42) came out hot in Indiana (53-25), jumping out to a 9-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back on their way to a 107-88 victory over the Pacers. Atlanta shot 56.2% from the field (41-of-73) and 44.4% from three (12-of-27) for the game, and they held the Pacers’ offense to 41% overall (32-of-78) and 25% from three (5-of-20).

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The Hawks were dominant on both ends of the floor in the first half, taking a 55-23 lead at the break. The Pacers’ 23 points in the first half marked a season-low for them in a half. The Pacers made a few runs in the second half, but could never get the deficit down to less than 13 after the 5:50 mark in the first quarter.

Jeff Teague led all scorers with 25 points on 9-of-17 shooting, while, with Lou Williams out with a sore hamstring, Shelvin Mack had 13 points and a team-high seven assists as the first guard off the bench. The Hawks backcourt was not only efficient on the offensive end, but was also stout defensively, holding George Hill and Lance Stephenson to a combined 15 points on 4-of-16 shooting.

The Hawks early dominance forced the Pacers to call a pair of early timeouts, and Pacers coach Frank Vogel pulled all five of his starters after six minutes of play when they were down 17-3. The Hawks shot 66.7% from the field in the first quarter and made 5-of-9 from three-point range, while holding the Pacers to 11 points on 21.1% shooting (0-for-5 from three).

Roy Hibbert only played nine minutes, none in the second half, and for the second time this season, he struggled to deal with Pero Antic‘s ability to stretch the floor. Antic, who was uncertain whether he would be able to play until right before the game with ankle soreness, had 18 points and six rebounds on the game, and made 7-of-8 from the field including three three-pointers.

Paul Millsap recorded his fourth straight double-double and 27th of the season with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Millsap suffered a right thumb injury in the third quarter, but was able to return to the game, although he was protective of the thumb using his left hand more around the rim.

On the wing, Kyle Korver had 11 points, six rebounds, and five assists and was 5-for-7 from the field as he seems to have regained his rhythm since returning from his back injury. DeMarre Carroll was quiet offensively, scoring five points on 2-of-3 shooting, but was terrific defensively, holding Paul George to 18 points on 6-of-17 shooting. Cartier Martin saw his first action in four games with Williams out, and made the most of his opportunity with nine points and five rebounds.

The victory moved the Hawks to 8-1 since the All-Star break with the Teague, Korver, Carroll, Millsap, and Antic starting lineup, and moved them ever closer to securing the eighth seed — also aided by a Knicks loss in Miami. The Hawks magic number for the playoffs is now at three, and they will be back in action on Tuesday when the Pistons come to town for their make-up game from February.

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Scouting Report: Indiana Pacers

Sunday, April 6, 2014
By Jaryd Wilson
Scouting Report: Indiana Pacers

The Hawks head to Indiana to face the struggling Pacers in a game that means a lot for both teams.

For Indiana, wins are a must if they hope to catch the Miami Heat in the race for home-court advantage.  The Pacers currently sit one game back in the loss column, and if last year’s conference finals is any indication, having home court in Game 7 if it gets there is huge.

For the Hawks, playoffs haven’t been the focus, but getting better and improving every game have.  Still, Atlanta has a lot on the line Sunday.  They are still without a quality road win this season and could use one to get some confidence going.  They’re just 11-27 on the road this season.

The Pacers’ struggles have been at the offensive end, where they’ve scored just 100+ points once during their 3-7 stretch and have been held under 90 seven times.  They’re still dangerous, especially when All-Star Paul George is hot.  He’s the catalyst for them offensively and is the only guy averaging better than 14 points per game.  The Hawks will use DeMarre Carroll to try to neutralize him, but it’ll have to be a team effort.

When the Hawks are healthy, they match up pretty well against Indiana.  Pero Antic was able to bother Roy Hibbert a bit during Indiana’s trip to Philips Arena earlier this season.  Antic’s length will, at the very least, make Hibbert’s go-to hook shot more difficult, and at the offensive end he’ll be able to pull Hibbert away from the basket, which should open up driving lanes for Jeff Teague against the slower George Hill.

Obviously rebounding is a big concern anytime you play Indiana.  The Hawks got a good test and passed in that department against the Bulls on Wednesday, actually out-rebounding Chicago.  Limiting the Pacers, who have struggled shooting the ball, to one shot should keep Atlanta close.

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Hawks Beat Cavs as Scott Breaks Out of Slump

Friday, April 4, 2014
By Robby Kalland
Hawks Beat Cavs as Scott Breaks Out of Slump

The Hawks (33-42) dominated from start to finish on their way to a 117-98 victory over the Cavs (31-46) behind 26 points off the bench by Mike Scott on 12-of-13 shooting, as he broke out of his shooting slump in a big way. Jeff Teague started hot and dominated the first and third quarters on his way to 20 points and 12 assists on 7-of-12 shooting. Teague also did well defensively on Kyrie Irving, limiting the All-Star to just 13 points, five rebounds, and four assists on 6-of-15 from the floor.

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Scott was able to get shots to fall early and build his confidence. He was working well in the pick-and-roll game, and also was able to find some deep post-up position early in the shot clock by beating his man down the floor.

“I was in a little shooting slump, but I just kept being aggressive and kept getting extra shots, and they finally fell,” said Scott. “I started going early and they started switching a lot of screens and they showed a hedge. Teague just told me to slip a lot of screens and I’d be open. That’s what I did.”

The Hawks led wire-to-wire, never letting the Cavs get in front. Atlanta were on fire to start the game, taking a 39-23 lead after the first quarter on 14-of-21 shooting (66.7%) and 6-of-11 from three (54.5%). The Hawks were able to stay hot for the entire game and finished with a 58.5% field goal percentage and 44.8% from three-point range.After a few tough shooting nights from three, getting those shots to fall was a big boost for the Hawks offense.

“We haven’t shot it that well recently,” said Coach Budenholzer. “It makes a big difference for us. There are a lot of times when we’re making the extra pass and we’re playing unselfishly and we’re getting guys pretty good looks. For whatever reasons, they haven’t been going down. That’s why we can’t just rely on our three-point shooting. Defensively you have to be solid. you have to keep attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line, and not just be dependent on the three-point shot. It’s pretty apparent though that when we make them, it makes a big difference.”

Joining Scott off the bench was Lou Williams who had 16 points and six assists in 21 minutes while shooting 66.7% from the floor and 60% from three-point range. Williams was decisive with the ball, doing well to attack the paint when the opportunity presented itself, and took his three-point shots in rhythm when open. The Hawks bench scored 54 points, with Elton Brand adding eight points and five boards, in one of the unit’s best efforts in recent weeks.

“Our bench was exceptional tonight” said Coach Bud. “I think Elton Brand, with his defense and his leadership, and Lou Williams made some big plays, and Mike Scott was good on both ends. He was active, made a lot of shots, and was a big difference maker off the bench.”

“Elton, Lou, Dennis, everybody came off the bench ready,” said Scott. “That’s what we do. We try to come off the bench ready and have a lot of energy.”

Turnovers were the only negative for the Hawks, as they had 17 on the night — nine in the second quarter — that led to 18 Cavs points. Other than that, the Hawks played a tremendous overall game. Their defense did well to keep the Cavs out of the paint, limited their offensive rebounding opportunities, and also were able to close out on Cavalier shooters holding them to just 23.8% from three.

“Defensively, I thought we had a good first quarter and I thought that fueled our offense,” said Coach Bud. “I think we were disciplined in our pick-and-roll coverage and we were more active earlier.When you get to your early shifts and your early rotations, you can get back to shooters and I think we did a better job of that tonight. I think we were more connected and in front of them more and that allows you to stay with shooters more.”

Paul Millsap had an effective, efficient 16 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists on 70% shooting in 28 minutes, with 10 of those points in the first quarter to lead the Hawks hot start. Millsap was able to bully his way into the lane against the Cavs frontcourt, and controlled the glass on the defensive end. DeMarre Carroll added 13 points and four rebounds, and Kyle Korver had eight points and six assists in the win.

The Hawks continue to control their destiny in the playoff chase. With the win tonight, and a loss by the Knicks to the Wizards, Atlanta is back to having a game advantage for the eighth seed with a two-game cushion in the loss column.The Hawks will be back in action Sunday evening in Indiana to face the suddenly slumping Pacers.

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Scouting Report: Cleveland Cavaliers

Thursday, April 3, 2014
By Robby Kalland
Scouting Report: Cleveland Cavaliers

The Hawks (32-42) will host the Cavaliers (31-45) Friday night in an important matchup in the Eastern Conference standings. The Cavs, currently 10th in the East, are two games behind the Hawks and Knicks (33-43) who are tied for the eighth seed with just six games left for Cleveland and New York and eight left for Atlanta. The Cavs have been playing well of late, winners of two in a row and five of their last six games.

Kyrie Irving leads the Cavaliers in scoring and assists with 21.1 points and 6.3 assists per game, but the All-Star point guard missed eight games with a biceps injury prior to returning for the Cavs last game, a blowout win over the Magic. Irving is an excellent ball-handler and has the ability to penetrate, and is a threat from three-point range (36.6% from three this season) if defenders go under screens or sag off of him to prevent drives.

In Irving’s absence, the Cavs relied on veteran Jarrett Jack to carry the load at point and, after a tough start to the season, he has come on of late and was a big reason for the Cavs recent hot streak despite them being without Kyrie. Along with Jack, Dion Waiters — the Cavs second leading scorer this season at 15.6 points per game — has looked strong of late. During the last nine games — the game after Kyrie’s injury until now — Waiters is averaging 22.4 points and 4.9 assists per game.

With Irving back, and having Jack and Waiters in good form, the Cavaliers’ backcourt is as dangerous as it has been all season. In the first matchup at Philips Arena early this season, the Hawks held Irving scoreless while Waiters had a big 30-point night in a 19-point Hawks victory. In the second meeting in Cleveland, Irving had 40 points to avenge that earlier performance, but even still, the Hawks got a two point victory.

The Hawks’ success against the Cavs has come in their ability to turn Cleveland over to get out in transition, and in the halfcourt they were able to work the ball inside-out. Where the Cavs backcourt is strong offensively, they are not a particularly good defensive unit. Jeff Teague will have opportunities to probe the Cavs defense and get into the paint to score for himself and help create looks for others. Paul Millsap has a favorable matchup with Tristan Thompson and will have opportunities to score in the post and from the outside.

Finding themselves in a fight for the postseason, the Hawks are in need of wins coming down the stretch. The Hawks know what they have to do to beat the Cavs, having done it twice already this season, and they will need to look back at what gave them success in those previous meetings to get a very important win at home.

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Hawks Fall to Bulls

Wednesday, April 2, 2014
By Robby Kalland
Hawks Fall to Bulls

The Hawks (32-42) got off to a hot start against the Bulls (43-32), but after a 31-point first quarter Chicago’s defense locked down on their way to a 105-92 victory. DJ Augustin led Chicago’s offense with 23 points and five assists, and sparked the Bulls second quarter run with 14 points to help Chicago take an eight point halftime lead.

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The Hawks, who have been out-rebounded by an average of 19 boards per game against the Bulls this season, did well on the glass and actually had a 38-37 rebounding advantage. While the Hawks kept the Bulls off the boards, live-ball turnovers negated the Hawks quality rebounding performance as they had 16 turnovers (13 live-ball) for 21 Chicago points.

“I think we had a lot of unforced turnovers,” Lou Williams said. “I had five turnovers myself, which is uncharacteristic of how I play. I don’t really make a lot of high-risk plays. I think on two or three of them I just handed them the ball. I just had a lot to do with us not taking care of the basketball.”

Joakim Noah did a little of everything for the Bulls, with 10 points, nine rebounds, five assists, and two steals. Carlos Boozer added 12 points and six rebounds as the starter next to Noah, while Taj Gibson closed the game out on the floor with 10 points, seven rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.

Chicago as a team shot the ball extremely well going 40-of-78 from the field (51.3%) and 12-of-25 from the three-point line (48%). Augustin led the three-point barrage going 4-of-8 from beyond the arc and Tony SnellMike Dunleavy, and Jimmy Butler added two makes a piece. Coach Bud said that against the Bulls the focus is on protecting the paint and keeping them off the offensive glass, and in doing so the Bulls were able to get some open looks from three, which they took full advantage of.

The Hawks cooled off significantly after a red-hot first quarter where they shot 66.7% from the floor and 83.3% from three. After the first quarter Atlanta shot just 40% for the final three quarters, and made just 3-of-17 from the three-point line. Kyle Korver made four of the Hawks eight three-pointers including three in the first quarter for nine of his 12 points.. The Bulls focused more on sticking with Korver rather than helping off of him, and in doing so, limited his opportunities.

The Hawks got a great contribution from Paul Millsap who put up 22 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists on 8-of-17 shooting against the tough defensive frontcourt of Chicago. Jeff Teague finished with 21 points and eight assists, and after dominating the first three quarters, he was held scoreless in the fourth as the Bulls defense got locked in.

“They’re a good defensive team,” said Millsap. “I felt like we started off moving the basketball well, and kinda slowed down and took a few bad shots. That’s where the focus comes in; staying with it and continuing to do what we did in the first quarter, but we didn’t do that.”

The Hawks got a nice contribution from Mike Muscala off the bench. Moose had a career-high eight points (50% shooting) and three rebounds, and moved well on the defensive end. Elton Brand also gave the Hawks a nice effort with eight points and five boards. The rest of the Hawks bench struggled going 4-for-13 from the field for 13 points.

The Hawks loss, coupled with a Knicks blowout win over the Nets, moves the Hawks into a tie with New York for eighth in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks have a percentage point lead on the Knicks because they have one fewer loss, and the Hawks have seven games remaining on their schedule while the Knicks will play six more. The next game for the Hawks will be on Friday night when the Cavaliers come to Atlanta.

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Scouting Report: Chicago Bulls

Tuesday, April 1, 2014
By Robby Kalland
Scouting Report: Chicago Bulls

The Hawks (32-41) snapped a six-game losing streak Monday night with a win over the Sixers and will face a much tougher test on Wednesday night when the Bulls (42-32) come to Atlanta. Chicago is looking to sweep the season-series with the Hawks, winning the first three games by an average margin of 8.7 points.

In the first three matchups, the Bulls have scored 99.3 points per game (6.2 points higher than their season average) while still playing stingy defense, allowing the Hawks to score just 90.6 points per game. Joakim Noah has led the charge for the Bulls all season, and against the Hawks, Noah is averaging 16.3 points, 13.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 2.7 blocks. Noah’s activity around the rim has caused problems for the Hawks — and most teams in the league — and he’s been able to be effective and efficient on the offensive end, shooting 57.1% for those 16.3 points — well above his 12.5 points per game average on 48.2% shooting for the season.

Along with Noah, Taj Gibson has been a force in the first three meetings with the Hawks. Gibson is also averaging a double-double with 16.0 points and 10.7 rebounds per game against Atlanta. Gibson and Noah have taken advantage of the Hawks smaller frontcourt on the glass helping the Bulls hold a rebounding advantage of 57.3 to 37.7 (17.3 to 11.0 offensive) on average over the three games against the Hawks.

For the Hawks to get a win on Wednesday, controlling the Bulls on the glass and keeping that rebounding margin — particularly on the offensive end — close will be a big key. With Paul Millsap, Pero Antic, and Elton Brand all healthy again, and with DeMarre Carroll and Kyle Korver both back on the wings — the Hawks two best rebounding perimeter players — the Hawks will have their best personnel available to get on the glass.

On offense, the Hawks have struggled — as most teams do — against Chicago’s tight defense. Millsap has been frustrated by the Bulls defense into just 15.5 points and seven rebounds per game — both below his average — and he’s been held to just 33.3% shooting against Chicago. Millsap is coming off a monster performance against the Sixers, so his confidence should be high, and the Hawks will need him to play at a similarly high level against the Bulls.

The Hawks’ biggest advantage against the Bulls is at point guard where Jeff Teague has been very successful against DJ Augustin and former teammate Kirk Hinrich. Teague is averaging 18 points per game against Chicago on 51.1% shooting, both above his season averages. If he can continue to be aggressive and not only find his own shot but create for others, that will be a big boost for the Hawks offense that has otherwise struggled against the Bulls.

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Hawks End Skid with Comeback Win Over the Sixers

Monday, March 31, 2014
By Robby Kalland
Hawks End Skid with Comeback Win Over the Sixers

The Hawks (32-41) snapped their six-game losing streak with a 103-95 comeback victory over the Sixers (16-58). Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 28 points, 17 rebounds, four assists, and three steals in a dominant performance, and Lou Williams pushed the Hawks to the win in the fourth quarter with 11 of his 22 coming in the final period.

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In his first game back after missing six games with back spasms, Kyle Korver got off to a rough start, missing all five of his shots in the first half but rebounded in the second half for 11 points with three made baskets including a three-pointer to kick off the third quarter. DeMarre Carroll also returned after missing Saturday night’s game with a stomach illness, and — like Korver — Carroll found his way in the second half after a rough start for nine points, five rebounds, four assists, and two steals. 

Thaddeus Young dominated early for the Sixers as they led by a 10-point halftime margin. Young finished the game with 23 points, four assists, and three rebounds and shot an incredible 5-of-6 from three-point range. Millsap had it going early with 15 points and seven rebounds in the first half, and really carried an otherwise sluggish Hawks offense. The Hawks were ice cold in the first half shooting 31.9% from the field and 13.3% (2-of-15) from three, while the Sixers shot 51.2% and were 5-of-15 from three.

“Nah, we couldn’t ,” said Millsap. “Easy shots, open shots, we missed them all. We just decided to try and attack the basket, get to the rim and the free throw line to open things up a little bit.”

“I think was pretty good in the first half, but he was significantly better in the second half, just like the rest of the guys, and we really kind of went through him. He went and got boards and got to the free throw line, and I think he was even more decisive and more aggressive in the second half. That was a big part of us being able to turn the score.”

Young and Millsap battled each other much of the night, with Millsap eventually coming out with the better line and the win. After a 14 point first half, the Hawks tightened up their defense on Young particularly in the pick-and-roll/pop.

“Well, he can also put the ball on the ground. Hard driver left. He can make plays at the basket, so it makes him tough when he’s making jump shots. He got going early so it was a little tough to contain him. staying with him on pick-and-rolls. Not giving him too many open looks — he still hit some tough shots in the second half — but we were able to contain him a little bit more by staying connected to him.”

Williams played the first three minutes of the fourth quarter before getting a breather until the 4:24 mark, and at that time the game was tied at 87. Williams missed his first three-point attempt, but then made three straight baskets — two threes and a floater — to take the Hawks from a three-point deficit with 2:55 left to a five point lead with 1:12 to play.

“He deserved to be on the court,” said Coach Bud. “He played well. It was great for our whole group for Lou to have a night like that. With the situation and circumstances with Kyle and DeMarre coming off injury and a little bit sick, Lou really stepped up and took over some of that slack. He was what we needed down the stretch.”

After a seven-game stretch earlier in the year where he did not play, Williams has come back with a renewed energy and has taken a rough patch and turned it into a positive.

“Lou’s been a great professional,” said Bud. “He’s stayed after practice or before practice. He’s been doing extra work with Jeff Watkinson our strength and conditioning coach, and I think it’s hard for people to understand what it means to be a pro. I think that’s an example. He wasn’t getting to play, and a pro comes in and works early, stays late, does extra work in the weight room, and it’s a credit to him that he was ready when we called on him.”

For the Hawks, the win was huge with regard to the playoff race. Up just one game on the Knicks heading into the night, Atlanta desperately needed a win — particularly against a struggling opponent — to keep a bit of a cushion over New York.

“Well yeah, myself and everybody else feels like this game and every game from here on out is a must win,” said Millsap. “We need these games, it’s as simple as that. If we approach them as that, we won’t have quarters like we had tonight in the first quarter. Just staying focused and getting out there and doing what we need to do to win.”

“One game at a time,” said Williams. “We’re trying to win them all, and it felt good to come out and get the win. We’ll enjoy this one tonight, and start getting ready for the next one in the morning.”

That next one will be against a tough Bulls team that has given the Hawks fits this season on Wednesday night at Philips Arena.

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Scouting Report: Philadelphia 76ers

Sunday, March 30, 2014
By Robby Kalland
Scouting Report: Philadelphia 76ers

The Hawks (31-41) will look to end their six-game losing streak Monday night when the Sixers (16-57) come to Philips Arena. The Sixers just broke their 26-game losing streak with a dominant win over the Pistons, and will look to put together back-to-back wins for the first time since Jan. 2 and Jan. 4.

Michael Carter-Williams and Thaddeus Young have been the two bright spots in an otherwise tough season for the Sixers. Young has assumed the role of lead scorer after the Sixers traded Evan Turner at the deadline, and he is averaging 18 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 2.2 steals this season. Young is a unique combination of size, length, and athleticism on the wing and plays the three and the four for Philadelphia at times. On defense, he is among the league leaders in steals using his length to disrupt ball-handlers and get in passing lanes.

Carter-Williams has been impressive in his rookie campaign with 16.6 points, 6.2 assists, 6.0 rebounds, and 2.0 steals. Carter-Williams has not shot the ball particularly well with a 39.1% FG% and 26.1% 3FG% on the season, but he is adept at getting into the paint and does well in transition.

The Sixers are near the top of the league in pace and love to push the ball in transition with so many young players. The Sixers’ roster has been in flux for much of the year, but they have been consistent in their commitment to playing with tempo and trying to get out and run at any opportunity.

The Hawks will have plenty of opportunities to score on the Sixers, who allow the most points to opponents in the league at 108.9. Atlanta continues to battle injuries, but the Sixers’ defense might just be the answer for the slumping Hawks. Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague will have plenty of opportunities in pick-and-roll to get to the rim or pop out for open jumpers.

The Hawks, one games up on the Knicks for the eighth seed, are in desperate need of a win. They came close on Saturday night in Washington, but fell just short in their comeback bid despite a great effort from Teague in the closing minutes.

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Hawks Fall In Washington

Saturday, March 29, 2014
By Robby Kalland
Hawks Fall In Washington

The Hawks (31-41) dropped their sixth straight in a hard fought contest 101-97 against the Wizards (38-35), as their late comeback effort fell short. Jeff Teague led the Hawks’ comeback effort late in the fourth quarter with nine of his team-high 19 points in the frame. Teague sparked an 8-0 run in the final minute of the game that gave them an opportunity to tie or take the lead with under 15 seconds to play.

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Marcin Gortat got a great feed from John Wall with 20 seconds to play, but he left the layup short that would’ve given Washington a four point lead. Gortat redeemed himself on the defensive end with a block on Teague’s floater attempt, but the Hawks still had the ball with 11.1 seconds to play. Teague again was able to penetrate, but his scoop shot to tie hit the bottom of the rim and the rebound was collected by Drew Gooden, who iced the game with two free throws.

The Hawks starting unit was excellent led by Teague’s 19. Paul Millsap had 17 points, five assists, four rebounds, and two steals. Millsap’s frontcourt mate Pero Antic had a terrific game in his return from a sprained ankle that kept him out of one game with 13 points and 12 rebounds and was a team-high +24. Cartier Martin got the start in DeMarre Carroll‘s place as Carroll dealt with an illness. Martin gave the Hawks a nice boost, particularly in the first half, and finished with 13 points, four rebounds, two assists, and two steals. 

The short-handed bench struggled on the defensive end, but fought hard and had some bright spots. Lou Williams had 12 points to lead all bench players and Dennis Schröder looked good with eight points in his 15 minutes of action. Unfortunately, too many miscues on the defensive end and 11 live-ball turnovers (14 overall) leading to 21 Wizards points were too much to overcome.

The Hawks led 60-52 midway through the third quarter, but a late quarter run by the Wizards and then a slow start to the fourth by Atlanta put them in a hole that they were unable to dig out of. Wall led the Wizards with 25 points, seven rebounds, six assists, and three steals. Wall hit a couple big threes — one late in the third quarter and another with just a couple minutes to play in the fourth — during the Wizards’ run.

Gooden, who hit the two free throws to ice the game, was huge for Washington with 16 points and eight rebounds off the bench on a perfect 5-for-5 from the field and 5-for-7 from the field. Gortat added 12 points and 11 rebounds. The Hawks did pretty well on the glass to keep their deficit on the board to just 44-40, but the Wizards dominated with a 17-7 advantage in the third quarter when they made their run to take the lead for good.

The Hawks will be back in action on Monday against the Sixers, who snapped their 26-game losing streak in dominating fashion against the Pistons Saturday evening. Atlanta’s lead on the Knicks is back to 1.5 games for the eighth seed, and a two game lead in the loss column.