For the better part of the first half in Miami, it looked like it would be, at the very least, an extremely competitive game between the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat, but unfortunately, that sentiment didn’t continue once the second half commenced. The Heat used an incredibly balanced offensive effort to put up 56 2nd-half points, and in the process, toppled the Hawks, 104-88.
As the title of this post suggests, the turnover margin was one of two main factors in deciding this game. The Hawks committed a season-high 24 turnovers (which led to 22 points for the Heat), and because of that, Miami was able to attempt 7 more field goals and 4 more free throws than the Hawks in this spot.
Secondly, the Hawks struggled immensely on the defensive end, and despite some early resistance, the offensive numbers were staggering for Miami. The Heat finished with 50.6% shooting from the field and 47.6% (10 for 21) from 3-point distance, and that simply isn’t a recipe to grab a win on the road in this league. Lebron James was held scoreless (yes, scoreless) in the 1st quarter (on 0-3 shooting), but he improved as the game went along, and while he didn’t have a big game on the stat sheet, he and Chris Bosh controlled the action.
Speaking of Bosh, his 19 points (on 8 for 9 shooting) led all scorers on the night, and Ray Allen led Miami’s bench mob with 17 points. The final margin was also telling in that no player for either team exceeded 31 minutes of on-court time (Lebron), and coach Mike Budenholzer was quick to yank his starters in the 4th quarter in preparation for tomorrow’s 2nd game of a back-to-back against Detroit.
In actuality for the Hawks, only Mike Scott had what I would describe as an “above-average” offensive performance. Scott posted a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds in just 28 minutes, and his 6 of 10 shooting provided some efficiency on an inefficient offensive night. Both Al Horford and Jeff Teague struggled in their own way, as Horford set a new career high in the turnover column with 7, while Teague shot just 4 of 13 in route to 9 points and 7 assists.
Neither performance is worthy of panic, however, and this was just “one of those nights” for both players. In fact, Horford had moments of dominance on the interior, and only some uncharacteristic ball-handling/passing issues did in Atlanta’s best player.
On the positive side for Atlanta, Kyle Korver extended his streak of consecutive games with a 3-pointer to a mind-blowing 84 in a row, bringing him within 5 games of Dana Barros for the all-time NBA record. Kyle got this one out of the way very early on Tuesday, knocking down his 2nd attempt of the game at the 9:52 mark of the 1st quarter, and there was no need for anyone to hold their breath from that point on.
Defensively, the lone bright spot for me was DeMarre Carroll, who I thought did a mostly spectacular job on Lebron James. Carroll played only 23 minutes (again, due to the score), but he reminded everyone of his defensive reputation in this game, and that is a positive sign for the 3 future meetings against LBJ and the Heat.
There were a couple of noteworthy lineup moves from Mike Budenholzer in this game, some of which made little sense to me. First, John Jenkins was the first “wing” off the bench in this game, and while I’ve been clamoring for more time for him, he didn’t perform well in his 19 minutes. The stats weren’t atrocious, but Jenkins was utterly lost at times on the defensive end, and frankly looked like a player who hadn’t been playing much competitive basketball in recent days.
Also, a lineup of Shelvin Mack, Jenkins, Cartier Martin, Scott, and Pero Antic saw the court for an extended period of time in the 1st half, and that was an aggressive choice from Budenholzer. I’d be interested to see the full lineup data here, but even on a night where the Hawks were short-handed, I didn’t understand the extended use of that five-some. In that vein, Shelvin Mack was, again, the first point guard off the bench for Atlanta (playing 25 minutes), and Dennis Schröder appears to be firmly in the dog house at this point.
The final margin of 16 points is probably a bit misleading, as the Hawks were likely more competitive than that before pulling the plug in the second half. However, that doesn’t make this a positive performance for Atlanta, and hopefully, there will be much, much better nights to come for this team. Stay tuned for more coverage, as the Hawks return home to host Josh Smith and the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.