Ball security fails Atlanta Hawks in 111-106 loss to New York Knicks


Dec 14, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks shooting guard Iman Shumpert (21) fouls Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford (15) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

27 turnovers. 36 points.

It’s not often that a single statistic can tell virtually the entire story of an NBA game, but we’re going to attempt to do it here. The Atlanta Hawks committed a season-high (and staggering) 27 turnovers in a 111-106 loss to the Knicks on Saturday, and as a direct result of those turnovers, New York was able to generate 36 points. Obviously, there were other positives and negatives throughout the game (and we’ll get there), but in a 5-point loss, there isn’t much need to dive deeper into the findings.

Before we continue to negative rant, there were some unquestionable positives here. First, Kyle Korver extended his NBA-record streak to 93 games with a 3-pointer, as he knocked down the first of his four triples at the 7:30 mark of the 3rd quarter. Secondly, Lou Williams had his best statistical game of the year, scoring 27 points in just 29 minutes off the bench, including a super-efficient 9 of 16 shooting night with 6 made threes.

With those out of the way, it’s time to revert back to the not-so-bright side. The Atlanta defense was better than the Atlanta offense in this game (not tough to do), but as a unit, it was far from ideal. The Knicks shot 50.6% from the field and over 42% from 3-point range in the game, and while they were clearly helped by the turnover troubles, it wasn’t purely that. Carmelo Anthony had a huge night against DeMarre Carroll and friends, scoring 35 points on 22 shots, and he was flanked by sudden Hawks-killer Andrea Bargnani, who added 23 points on 11-of-16 from the floor.

If you were to flatly ignore the turnover column in the box score, it would seem as if the Hawks were fantastic offensively here. As a team, Atlanta shot over 60% (not a typo) in a loss, and the team put 5 players in double-digits while knocking down 15 of 32 from beyond the arc. Al Horford was the only Hawk, other than the aforementioned Lou Williams, that could be characterized as having a “good” game, as the ultra-reliable big man put up 17 points on 7 of 9 shooting with “only” 3 turnovers.

Paul Millsap was the chief contributor to the turnover disaster, as the power forward coughed the ball up a shocking 9 times in the game. These nights happen in the league, and honestly, Millsap was effective (18 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals) when he wasn’t kicking the ball away. Jeff Teague had another slow night at the office, and that’s becoming a bit of a concern. Teague finished with just 4 points in 27 minutes (he equaled the point total with 4 TO’s), and against the porous Knicks defense, there was much more expected from the potential All-Star.

It would be easy to write and write about this game, but simply put, the turnover “production” made this a nearly impossible game to win, and it’s almost impressive that Atlanta was able to climb back into the game. The Hawks got within 2 late in the 3rd quarter, and only after a 17-6 run by New York that made it 98-83 was the game too far out of reach. Lou Williams scored a whopping 10 points (including 3 threes) in the last 97 seconds of game action, and that was the reason for the relatively small final margin.

The Hawks will have a day off on Sunday before taking the floor against the LA Lakers on Monday in their only visit to Atlanta this season. I’m fairly confident that ball security will be a primary focus between now and then, and we’ll see how much that particular issue is cleaned up by then. Stay tuned.