Hawks Valiant Comeback Falls Short Against Lakers

Monday, November 4, 2013
By Robby Kalland

Atlanta Hawks v Los Angeles Lakers

The Hawks came out flat on the road against the Lakers falling behind 33-22 after the first quarter. The Lakers shot 53.2% from the field and an incredible 8-of-13 (62.5%) from three (amazingly, all eight were made by different players) in the first half. The Hawks looked out of sorts on the defensive end in the first half struggling to defend the Lakers pick-and-roll attack and find the perimeter shooters on kick-outs. The Lakers led by as many as 21 points in the second quarter before the Hawks trimmed the lead to 62-49 at the half.

Hawks vs. Lakers
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The Lakers opened up a 17 point lead in the third quarter, before a nice run led by Jeff TeagueKyle Korver, and Cartier Martin to the Hawks’ deficit down to 11 at the end of the quarter. The Hawks defense began to clamp down on the Lakers and did a better job of contesting shots, both shots in the paint and jumpers. Korver and Carroll combined to hit three three-pointers in the third quarter, and they carried that hot shooting into the fourth.

Korver caught fire in the fourth, going 3-of-3 from three-point range, and helped the Hawks chip away at the 11 point Laker lead until they were able to tie it at 103-103 on a Paul Millsap jumper with less than a minute to play. The Lakers shot just 19% in the fourth quarter as the Hawks turned up the defensive pressure, and Al Horford, specifically, played phenomenal defense on Pau Gasol down the stretch, not allowing Gasol to make a field goal in the fourth quarter.

Atlanta Hawks v Los Angeles Lakers

The game came down to the final 30 seconds, and it was Jordan Hill who came up with a huge offensive rebound on a Gasol miss with 16 seconds to play that allowed the Lakers to get a second look at a game-winning shot. On the final Lakers’ offensive play, Gasol got the ball off a pick-and-roll with Nash as Horford hedged out to prevent a Nash drive to the basket. Gasol drove to the lane and dropped the ball off to Hill on the baseline and drew a (somewhat controversial) blocking foul on Millsap, who slid over in front of the driving Gasol, but was ruled that he was not in position in time to get the charge call. Gasol made both of his free-throws, which proved to be the game-winners.

On the Hawks’ final play, with six seconds left on the clock, the Hawks advanced the ball to the sideline where Pero Antic passed the ball into Korver. Korver turned around and put up a shot that was contested by two Lakers, including Gasol who chased out, knowing Korver would be looking to get the shot. Korver’s shot was blocked by Gasol and Horford’s effort to retrieve it and throw it back into play fell into the arms of the Lakers, sealing the game.

Gasol chasing out on Korver left Horford open on the elbow, with no one in front of him and the rim, but Korver caught the ball and, not expecting Gasol to be chasing so hard, turned and was in his shooting motion before he could diagnose the defense. After the game, Coach Bud said that the play was designed for Kyle, and that he was comfortable with that shot at the end because Korver thought he’d be open.

The flat start and a woeful 14-of-26 performance from the free throw line were the biggest factors in the Hawks’ inability to complete the comeback. The Hawks did well attacking the rim in the second half and were able to draw fouls, but they could not capitalize on those opportunities by shooting 53.8% from the free throw line.

Korver was clearly the player of the game, going 6-of-6 from the three-point line and scored 22 points to lead all scorers along with four assists. Korver extended his streak of consecutive games with a made three-point basket to 76, two behind third-place Dennis Scott, and made five three-pointers in a game for the 41st time in his career.

Mike Scott, Cartier Martin, and rookie Dennis Schröder gave the Hawks a nice lift off the bench and all logged 21+ minutes. Scott had 13 points and five rebounds in 21 minutes of work and was a big factor keeping the Hawks in the game in the first half. Scott brought a lot of energy off the bench and allowed Bud to let Millsap rest and regroup on the bench after a tough first half.

Martin played 27 minutes off the bench, and scored nine points, all three-pointers, and had four rebounds and three assists. Martin continues to impress and has shown a controlled aggression on the offensive end, which is miles beyond what we saw in his first preseason performance. His energy on the defensive end has also been a nice surprise for the Hawks, and has allowed Bud to stay with him for longer stretches of time.. Martin played a lot of second half minutes with the Hawks behind because he offered a better spacing option to DeMarre Carroll, who struggled from three going 0-for-3 (one was a half-court shot).

Schröder showed some flashes of brilliance on the offensive end on his way to a 10 point and four assist performance. Defensively, Dennis pressured the ball well and his on-ball defense was terrific, as is the norm, but he showed that there is still plenty of work for him to do in improving as an off-ball defender as he struggled staying with shooters through mazes of off-ball screens.

Horford finished the night with 12 points and did not have a particularly good offensive night, but he made his mark with his defense on Gasol in the fourth quarter and did a great job on the glass grabbing 16 boards. Horford frustrated Gasol into a 5-of-18 (27.8%) shooting night and stood tall in the paint in the second half.

Teague came back after a miserable first half to finish with 14 points, six boards, four assists, and two steals. Teague was able to push the pace in the second half and did a better job attacking the rim.

There were plenty of positives to come out of the Hawks’ second half performance, but digging themselves a big hole early in the game and not converting from the free throw line proved too much to overcome. The Hawks slip to 1-2 on the season and will travel to Sacramento for their next game on this west coast swing on Tuesday night.

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Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

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