Hawks Fall at Buzzer to Bobcats
The Hawks (37-44) played a hard-fought game with a short-handed lineup, but came up just short as the Bobcats (42-39) got a 95-93 win on a Chris Douglas-Roberts floater at the buzzer. The Hawks were resting three starters — Paul Millsap, DeMarre Carroll, and Kyle Korver — for the game and had Jeff Teague and Pero Antic sit the fourth quarter as the young bench unit got an opportunity to get valuable experience.
|Hawks vs. Bobcats|
“When you’re in our situation, health and all those things are a priority,” said Coach Budenholzer. “It was great to see Pero look like he had a bounce and was moving well and playing well. Jeff was the same thing. It was an opportunity to get them a little bit of rest, and an opportunity to get guys reps on defense and offense and all the different things we do. There were a lot of positives with giving other people opportunities and allowing Jeff and Pero to play, and play without being injured.”
The Hawks started slow, trailing by as many as nine in the first quarter, but fought back and took a six-point lead at the half. They extended that lead in the third quarter, and took a game-high 15-point lead into the fourth. Atlanta’s defense in the second and third quarters was terrific, limiting the Bobcats to 36.6% shooting in those two quarters. The Bobcats only source of consistent offense in the first three quarters came from Al Jefferson, who finished the game with a monster double-double of 27 points and 15 rebounds.
In the fourth quarter, the Bobcats started to make shots as Luke Ridnour and Gary Neal came in off the bench and had 10 points each in the fourth. While the Bobcats’ offense got rolling, the Hawks began to sputter, as Atlanta shot 25% in the quarter (14.3% from three) as they scored just 13 points to the Bobcats 30. Charlotte took the lead with 4:24 to play, and led by as many as five in the final minutes, but the Hawks came back to tie the game twice, once by Shelvin Mack and then again by Lou Williams with 2.6 seconds remaining.
On the final play of the game, the Hawks did well to cover the Bobcats’ first three options — Neal, Ridnour, and Jefferson — but the Bobcats were able to get Douglas-Roberts the ball coming across the free throw line, and he curled towards the basket and hit the high-arcing floater at the buzzer to seal the win.
While the Hawks lost, they were able to get valuable experience for some young players and much needed rest for their starters as they prepare for the playoffs. With no opportunity to advance their positioning in the East, the Hawks were able to sit three guys that have been battling nagging injuries of late — Carroll (hand), Millsap (thumb), and Korver (back) — and then give Antic and Teague the opportunity to stay loose in the early part of the game, but stay out of harms way late.
For young players like Dennis Schröder and Mike Muscala, the experience gained by playing in a close game in the fourth quarter is invaluable for their development. Muscala put forth a solid game with eight points — tying his career high — and five rebounds, while getting plenty of lessons having to defend Jefferson. Muscala, as he usually does, looked active and played with a lot of energy at both ends.
Mike Scott led the Hawks with 20 points on 8-of-23 shooting along with six boards. Elton Brand came off the bench for a strong 21 minute performance with 12 points (4-of-5 shooting), seven rebounds, three blocks, and two steals. Mack also had a solid night with 13 points, five assists, and four rebounds on 50% shooting.
With the Heat losing to the Wizards tonight, the Hawks first round opponent is locked in as they will take on the Pacers for the second straight year in the first round of the playoffs. The Hawks will have one final tune up before the playoffs when they travel to Milwaukee for the regular season finale against the Bucks on Wednesday.
Tweet of the Night
— Tammy Maglovsky (@lastingmoments) April 15, 2014
Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images