Hawks Battle But Lose In Memphis

Sunday, January 12, 2014
By Robby Kalland

Atlanta Hawks v Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies (17-19) followed the lead of Mike Conley — 21 points, 13 assists, and four steals — to a 108-101 victory over the Hawks (20-18) on Sunday. Zach Randolph also joined Conley with a double-double of his own as he scored 18 points and pulled down 12 rebounds in the Memphis win.

Hawks vs. Grizzlies
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For the Hawks, too many live-ball turnovers were more than they could overcome. The Hawks’ 15 turnovers were around the team’s team average, but too many of them were live-ball turnovers that  the Grizzlies were able to convert into 25 points. Jeff Teague had 20 points and five assists on the night, but he was also responsible for five of the Hawks’ turnovers.

Atlanta fell behind early as the starting unit, featuring Gustavo Ayon for the first time since the Horford injury, struggled with its offensive spacing. Ayon had not played since the Horford injury, but was pushed into action with Pero Antic unavailable due to back spasms. With Ayon on the floor, the Hawks looked out of sync on both ends of the floor, as the rhythm and flow they established in the past week was not there.

The bench unit came in, led by Mike Scott and Elton Brand, and provided the Hawks with a lift and showed a continuity that the starters didn’t, cutting the Grizzlies lead down to three after the first quarter. Scott has excelled in his expanded role off the bench with Horford out, and had 15 points and four rebounds in 28 minutes in Memphis. Brand continues to be the Hawks’ most effective rim protector and post-defender and continued to show the ability to score from the mid-range when called on, going 4-of-4 from the field with eight points in 18 minutes.

The Hawks took a three-point lead briefly in the second quarter, but the Grizzlies’ starting unit was able to counter with a run of their own to close out the half with a 48-41 lead. The second half went much like the first half, as the Grizzlies built a 13 point third quarter lead, but the Hawks closed the third quarter and opened the fourth quarter on a 16-0 run to take an 80-77 advantage behind terrific play from Shelvin MackDeMarre Carroll and Scott, who combined for 15 of the Hawks’ 16 points during the run.

However, like in the first half, the Grizzlies’ starters returned to the game and put forth a strong effort to close out the game. Conley was aggressive getting to the rim, which opened up the floor for Mike Miller and the rest of the Grizzlies’ offense on their way to the victory.

Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 21 points and had six rebounds and six assists in another solid offensive outing. The Hawks offense as a team, turnovers aside, played well. The Hawks shot 47.5% from the field and 33.3% from three-point range and got to the free throw line 24 times, converting on 16 attempts (66.7%).

The Grizzlies had a terrific offensive night, shooting 51.8% from the field, 40% from three-point range, and 80% from the free throw line. Conley, Randolph and Miller led the way, but all five starters had double-digit scoring nights and they got strong bench play from James Johnson with seven points.

The Hawks can find plenty of positives from their performance, particularly the bench unit’s continued strong play. They will hope to have Antic back in time for their game in London on Thursday against the Nets, but if his back spasms persists they will have to find continuity with Ayon in the starting lineup, particularly in spacing the floor.

Tweet of the Night

Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images

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