On the night the Hollywood movie stars were in California celebrating Oscar wins, the Atlanta Hawks were out west in Phoenix without the services of their lone NBA All-Star, Paul Millsap. The explosive Suns hit a team season high watermark for points scored as defense was somewhat of an afterthought in the 129-120 offensive shootout.
Jeff Teague had his fourth straight game topping twenty-five points, and the two guard experiment is definitely bringing out the best in him. He played his heart out in the tough loss, displaying an aggressive attacking style throughout while delivering perhaps the most complete performance of his career: 29 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals and a big blocked shot, with only 3 turnovers. Despite Teague’s heroic efforts, Atlanta was unable to overcome a sizable hole dug in the first half. Phoenix scored seventy-nine before the break and held a fourteen-point advantage. The Hawks were actually within just one point before a Suns flurry late in the 3rd quarter, which closed with Phoenix up 102-95.
The Suns consistently pushed tempo and drained fourteen threes on the night, forcing Atlanta into a wild track meet. Kyle Korver kept pace with a scorching shooting night, popping 6-of-7 from downtown. While the Hawks transition defense clearly faltered, the team showed some fight and athleticism with good games in support of Teague and Korver from Louis Williams off the bench and Mike Scott. Scott earned his third career start and chipped in twenty.
The Morris twins came off the bench for Phoenix and scored nearly forty between them (39 points, 17 rebounds). Gerald Green was clearly the biggest individual story for the Suns, as he ended up notching thirty-three points.
A trip to Portland is next for the struggling but scrappy Hawks, as a tough west coast swing continues.
~ Han Vance on Twitter: @hanvance