Sometimes in the NBA, teams can accrue “schedule losses”, and that appeared to be the case for the Hawks on Sunday evening. Atlanta fell by a score of 109-102 in Orlando, and after three consecutive overtime games, including a back-to-back with a short turnaround from Saturday night, they seemed to run out of gas down the stretch. Orlando spurted to a 9-0 run over about 90 seconds midway through the 4th quarter, and while the Hawks rallied a bit, they were never able to regain the lead in what ended up as a 7-point defeat.
Defensively, it wasn’t an ideal effort from the slow-legged Hawks, as the Magic shot blistering percentages from virtually everywhere on the floor. Orlando shot over 55% from the floor, 38% from beyond the 3-point arc, and even 79% (on 24 attempts) at the line in route to their 109 points, and on the road (especially on short rest), that’s not a recipe for success. 7 of the 9 players that saw action for the Magic scored in double-figures, and their entire starting lineup posted positive on/off numbers in addition to a team total of 30 assists on 41 field goals. It’s not unfair to suggest that a healthy Al Horford would have made up some of the difference, but frankly, it’s unproductive to continue mentioning what “would” have happened with Al on the floor.
Jeff Teague led the way for the Hawks with 20 points and 7 assists in an efficient manner, and he was flanked by another productive night from both Paul Millsap and Lou Williams. Lou needed 16 shots to get his 18 points, but his shot creation was sorely needed at times, while Paul struggled from the field, but still managed to put up 17 points and 7 rebounds in 36 minutes. Shelvin Mack may have had the best per-minute night of any Hawk with 14 points (on 5-11 shooting and 4-7 from three), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals in 25 minutes, and along with Dennis Schröder (he’s alive), the backcourt reserves did a great supporting job in this one.
Kyle Korver provided his usual glimpse of warmth and light with his 100th consecutive game with a 3-point field goal, extending his own NBA record even further into the stratosphere. The streak-continuing triple slashed through the net at the 9:52 mark of the 2nd quarter (on an assist from Shelvin Mack), and while it wasn’t a huge statistical night from Kyle (8 points, 2-4 from deep), he was once again effective in drawing significant defensive attention.
In terms of takeaways from this one, there probably isn’t a lot to glean. There will certainly be better defensive nights (and I’m positive that Coach Budenholzer will focus on this in any post-game comments), but these things happen in the league after a long week like the one that the Hawks endured, and with this regime in place, there is little reason to worry.
Now, the team will have an off day on Monday before heading to Boston for a rare matinee, and hopefully, the collective “legs” of the Hawks will be back in full force by then. Stay tuned.