Hawks Drop Third Straight as Memphis Wins Slugfest

Saturday, February 8, 2014
By Robby Kalland

Memphis Grizzlies v Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks (25-24) started out hot, leading by as many as 14 points in the first quarter, but the Grizzlies (27-22) were able to slow down the pace and grind out a 79-76 victory. Zach Randolph had 20 points and six rebounds to lead Memphis on an efficient 10-of-16 shooting. Along with Randolph, only Courtney Lee (14 points) and Nick Calathes (10 points) finished in double figures for the Grizzlies, but it was enough thanks to their stingy defense.

Hawks vs. Grizzlies
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The Hawks shot 42.9% from the field on the game, but were just 19-of-57 (33.3%) from the field after a 11-of-13 start that gave them the 14 point lead early. After scoring 29 in the first quarter, the Hawks offense came to a screeching halt on their way to a season-low 76 points. Atlanta’s offense had seven assists on their first seven made shots, but the ball movement slowed as the Grizzlies were able to slow the pace of the game down and use their length to bother passing lanes on their way to 14 steals. Overall, the Hawks had 21 turnovers — 10 in the nightmare that was the third quarter — that led to 22 Memphis points.

Paul Millsap finished with 20 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, and five steals along with five turnovers. Millsap had 12 points, six rebounds, six assists, and three steals in the first half, but the Grizzlies made him their focal point on the defensive end in the third quarter and it paid off.

After holding on to a one-point lead at the half, the Hawks came out sluggish in the third quarter scoring just 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting with the aforementioned 10 turnovers that led to 14 of the Grizzlies 21 points in the quarter. Millsap was held scoreless on three shot attempts in the third quarter, and had all five of his turnovers came in the third.

The Hawks battled back in the fourth quarter, as they continued to put forth a very good defensive effort against an offensively challenged Grizzlies club. Millsap finally got back in the points column late in the fourth, with eight points in the final 2:32 and closed the gap to three points with a three-pointer with 39.2 seconds to play.

The Hawks got the stop they needed and the rebound with 15 seconds left. Coach Bud opted to not call timeout, hoping to get, as he called it, “a quick probe” for an open look. Bud said the plan was to get any open look, including a two-point attempt with that much time remaining. After the first Lou Williams three-pointer missed, the Hawks gathered the rebound and Bud’s effort to call a timeout went unheard and the Grizzlies got a steal to seal the win.

Atlanta’s defensive effort was very solid, and Coach Bud pointed to it as a definite positive to take away from the game. They held the Grizzlies to 41.1% shooting, and battled on the glass to a 42-41 advantage. Unfortunately, the Hawks were never unable to get their offense going until it was too late.

Williams played the majority of his minutes as the backup point guard instead of Shelvin Mack as Bud tried to mix up his lineups to see how Lou would handle the point guard duties alone rather than in a two-guard lineup. Williams finished with six points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two turnovers on 2-of-8 shooting. Starting point guard Jeff Teague struggled as well, with just eight points and four assists — and four turnovers — on 3-of-10 shooting.

The Hawks only other player in double-figures on the night was DeMarre Carroll, who had 13 points, six rebounds, and three assists. Carroll, like Millsap, started hot with nine points in the first six minutes, but cooled off for the rest of the night once the Grizzlies tightened up their defense.

Memphis’ defensive presence was tremendous, as they shut down the Hawks in the paint — out-scoring Atlanta 50-34. The Hawks started out hot from the perimeter and finished 8-for-20 from the three-point line, but were only 4-of-13 after the first quarter from deep.

Kyle Korver had three of the Hawks’ made three-pointers as he extended his streak to 118 consecutive games with a three-pointer. Korver finished with nine points, four assists, and four turnovers.

Mike Scott, who came in with a streak of 12 straight double-figure scoring nights, was held scoreless in just under 16 minutes of play, as he struggled to deal with the physicality of Randolph and the Grizzlies bigs. Scott was forced to expend a lot of energy on the defensive end trying to handle the much bigger Randolph, and it took it’s toll on his offensive production.

The Hawks will have to find the offensive rhythm they showcased prior to this three-game skid over the next two days before they travel to Chicago to face the Bulls.

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Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

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