Hawks Move To 2-2 After Crazy Night In Sacramento

Wednesday, November 6, 2013
By Robby Kalland

Atlanta Hawks v Sacramento Kings

The Hawks got back to .500 on the season in their game of three on the west coast, defeating the Kings 105-100. Al Horford led the way with his third-straight double-double as he had 27 points, 10 rebounds, three steals, two blocks and one assist, including a pair of free throws to ice the game with 2.3 seconds to play. Paul Millsap had a double-double of his own with 25 points, 11 boards, four assists, four steals and one block. The two big men carried the Hawks down the stretch and held off a massive rally from the Kings led by Isaiah Thomas, who had a game-high 26 points off the bench.

Hawks vs. Kings
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The Hawks fell behind early, as they have been apt to do this season, and trailed the Kings 32-25 after the first quarter. Jeff Teague came alive in the second quarter with 10 points and four assists and shut down Thomas and Greivis Vasquez who combined for just two points and three assists in the quarter on 1-4 shooting. Behind Teague’s effort, the Hawks outscored the Kings 29-13 in the second quarter and held Sacramento to 25 percent shooting from the field and 14.3 percent shooting from three-point range.

Atlanta Hawks v Sacramento Kings

Atlanta stayed hot in the third quarter, opening up as much as a 19-point lead over the Kings and entered the fourth with a 17-point cushion. Kyle Korver had seven points in the quarter and extended his three-point streak to 77 games. Korver can tie Dennis Scott for the third longest streak all-time in Denver on Thursday. Horford heated up in the third as well, scoring nine points on 4-6 shooting, including a three-pointer of his own, his first of the season. 

Then, the fourth quarter happened.

Atlanta’s 17 point lead was chipped away by the Kings behind 18 fourth quarter points from Thomas and eight points from Marcus Thornton. The Hawks had no answer for the Kings point guard, who slashed his way to the rim going 5-7 from the field and 7-7 from the free throw line. Teague struggled in the fourth with just one point and one steal along with two turnovers, as he was harassed by Thomas’ frenetic play on both ends of the floor.

The Hawks were outscored 35-23 in the fourth, and Sacramento forced eight Hawks’ turnovers leading to 13 points for the Kings. Luckily for Atlanta, Horford and Millsap stepped up when it counted, scoring 18 combined points on 6-8 shooting in the fourth and each made key baskets in the closing minutes.

The Hawks showed what their potential can be when the offense and defense get going at the same time in the second and third quarters, but consistency continues to be the issue for Atlanta. The Hawks’ defensive miscues in the first and fourth quarters show that there is still plenty of progress to be made, and I know I’ve said this each night, but especially in communication on screens. They looked much better and were on the same page in the middle of the game but lost Thomas a lot in the fourth quarter, allowing him to get in the paint before the help could arrive on time.

Offensively, the spacing was excellent, and the guys seemed to be doing a better job of being in sync with one another in motion. Horford and Millsap’s chemistry on the offensive end was great and they are balancing the floor well by flexing either wide on the baseline (sometimes to the corner three) or up to the elbow when the other gets the ball in the post.

The Hawks appear to be grasping the broader play concepts better as well. When they run the loop, when one man is clearing an area, another is filling that void quickly and the ball is moving more crisply. This shows a greater comfort level and confidence in the system, as guys are no longer having to think as much about where to go and where to swing the ball. Instead, the natural movement and flow to the offense is starting to come, which makes the ball move faster and makes them much more difficult to defend.

The Hawks will pull a lot of positives away from this game going into Denver on Thursday night an are building confidence as a group as each game progresses.

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Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images

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