Edit: According to the AJC’s Chris Vivlamore, Al Horford will not appear in Wednesday’s final preseason game as a result of a hamstring issue. More to come.
For the first 12 minutes of Tuesday night’s game against the Indiana Pacers, the Atlanta Hawks looked to be in complete control of the festivities. Unfortunately, that didn’t continue when the scoreboard clicked away from the 1st quarter, and the Hawks dropped their 5th preseason game of the year, 107-89.
The Hawks were led in scoring by Jeff Teague and Mike Scott, who tallied 17 points a piece, but it was a team effort that left Atlanta with a 24-15 lead after the opening frame. Atlanta started the night on a 22-11 run, thanks to 10 of 18 shooting from the floor, and the team didn’t commit a single turnover until an errant pass from Royal Ivey at the 1:36 mark. In addition, Mike Budenholzer referred to the 1st quarter as the team’s “best defensive 12 minutes” of the year, and things were clicking on all cylinders.
Then, Indiana made their 2nd quarter run and they were off to the races. The Hawks allowed the Pacers to shoot 11 of 20 from the floor (and 9 of 10 from the line) in the second period, and Indy won the quarter, 31-17. As Budenholzer referenced during the postgame press conference, the defensive intensity and execution “digressed” as the game went along, and in contrast to that, Indiana’s play continued to rise to the occasion. From there, the Hawks failed to stop the bleeding, as they were outscored 61-48 in the second half in route to the final, 18-point margin.
There were certainly positives from this game, and that begins with the play of Jeff Teague. Teague was excellent with the exception of 5 turnovers, and even that fault was mitigated by aggressive play across the board. He finished with the aforementioned 17 points (on 6 of 10 shooting) and 8 assists in the game, but more than that, he seemed to be acclimating himself to the new offense.
In addition to Jeff, Mike Scott had a late explosion off the bench, as his 17 points came in just 23 minutes of court time. Also, Elton Brand (11 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals) was excellent in his 22 minutes, and DeMarre Carroll flashed the energy and explosiveness that makes me so bullish on his prospects for the season.
As for Indiana, David West and Luis Scola were simply too much offensively. West seemingly did whatever he wanted against various defenders, unleashing his normal arsenal of mid-range dominance in route to 24 points in just 27 minutes, and when he has it going, it’s frankly unstoppable. Scola wasn’t much of a downgrade, either, and he put up 20 points in just over 18 minutes of action.
On the whole, it obviously wasn’t a fantastic performance for Atlanta (see the final score), but the positive takeaway is that the starters played competitively in their minutes, and the (extended) bench seemed to be the issue, as they were outscored 50-28 by the Indiana unit. As rotations shorten a bit, we’ll get a better feel, but it’s also difficult to gauge Atlanta’s progress after what Coach Bud called a “heck of a preseason schedule” that has featured the Heat, Spurs, Grizzlies, and Pacers.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s final preseason tilt, as the Hawks head to Dallas to square off with the Mavs.