With a 6-point halftime lead, it looked very much as if the Atlanta Hawks would get off the mat and grab a road victory after facing some adversity over the weekend, but in what seemed like a snap of the fingers, the Brooklyn Nets surged ahead and managed to outlast the Hawks, 92-86. Brooklyn began the 2nd half with a staggering 14-0 run, claiming a 6-point lead thanks to some hapless Atlanta offense, and from there, they trailed only once in holding on for the victory.
Offense was certainly the issue for the Hawks in the decisive 2nd half, and the team didn’t scratch on the scoreboard for the first 5+ minutes of the 3rd quarter. There was a small bit of life in Atlanta’s legs in the 4th, as they grabbed a quick 1-point lead with 6:35 left after a 7-0 run, but that was the lone bright spot in an otherwise dismal showing. For the game, the Hawks shot just 38.6% from the field, and frankly, the only reason the game was as close as it was came at the free throw line, where Atlanta took advantage of 26 attempts with 24 makes (92.3%).
Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague (now, the “big two”) led the way with 16 points each for the Hawks, but neither had a particularly good day at the office. The two players combined to shoot 9-for-27 from the floor (5-15 for Teague, 4-12 for Millsap), and on top of that, they combined for 11 turnovers, including an unacceptable 7 from the team’s floor general in Teague. In all honesty, this was a bit of a troubling night from both players, as Brooklyn has struggled defensively all season, but there were visible struggles throughout, which doesn’t do much to ease concern without Al Horford on the floor.
The bench was (mostly) a bright spot on this night, with Elton Brand and Mike Scott excelling. Brand played 30 minutes (a ton at this stage of the season) and scored 10 points while adding 7 rebounds and 3 blocks. In Scott’s case, he provided a much-needed offensive lift with 9 points in 13 minutes, and while he didn’t see much of the floor late, he managed to fill his role perfectly.
It wasn’t a great shooting night for Kyle Korver, but the streak is alive and well. Kyle connected on a triple at the 9:11 mark of the 1st quarter, getting the streak-saver out of the way early, but unfortunately, that was his only three of the night. Korver did contribute in other ways (7 rebounds, 6 assists), but he went cold from the field (1-for-5) and finished with a -7 on-court rating.
In truth, this was an ugly performance that probably should have resulted in a more lopsided loss. The shooting numbers speak for themselves, but with 18 turnovers leading to 28 Brooklyn points, it’s borderline amazing that this was a closely-fought battle into the final minutes. The team will have a day off before returning home on Wednesday, but the schedule doesn’t exactly “open up”, as the Hawks host Indiana and Houston in the next two games. Stay tuned.