The Atlanta Hawks managed two big wins, one against Chicago Bulls on Friday and the other against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday at Phillips Arena, to redeem themselves after a shocking loss to the Detroit Pistons last Wednesday.
ICYM: The Atlanta Hawks took a hard loss to the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. Not that any Hawks fan wants to relive that game, but in short, the Hawks got off to a very poor start (with the Pistons leading 42-18 by the end of the first quarter), allowed Detroit to dominate from three-point-range, and the Hawks found themselves out-rebounded 60-32. After this game, Atlanta Hawks fans had reason for concern. Was this the start of a downfall?
Just 48 hours later, the Hawks had an answer. When the Chicago Bulls came to Phillips Arena on Friday night, the Hawks seemingly took out their frustrations from the previous game on them. Atlanta was able to jump on Chicago early, just as the Pistons had done to them two nights prior. For the Hawks, it was Dennis Schroder who controlled the tempo for the offense with 17.2 points, shooting 51.1 percent, 37 percent from three-point-range, and 5.8 assists. The Hawks maintained the momentum and finished with a 102-93 victory over the Bulls.
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Saturday evening, the Hawks faced another challenge in a red hot Philadelphia 76ers matchup again at Phillips. This time last season, only a die hard Atlanta Hawks fan would have come out to see them take on the Sixers, but this year’s team was a different one, having won six out of seven of their last games (including two most recent over the Raptors and Trailblazers). The Atlanta Hawks had their work cut out for them, needing to focus on two keys to win: taking advantage of matchups and playing with energy from start to finish.
The Hawks played more of a Philadelphia style of basketball in the first quarter as the lead went back and forth, resulting in a tie at 25 at the buzzer. As the game went on, the Hawks began to take advantage of the young team, shooting 70 percent (16/23) and taking a 62-54 lead at the half. By the start of the 4th quarter, the Hawks had shot 53.6 percent had 40 points in the paint and nine turnovers compared to the 45.2 percent shooting, 28 points in the paint and 16 turnovers of the 76ers. The Hawks carried on strong with increased confidence, winning 110-93. It was an all night flow for Atlanta, and never once were fans truly in fear of losing this game.
Five Atlanta Hawks had a huge impact on Saturday night’s blowout: Paul Millsap, Dwight Howard, Dennis Schroeder, Kent Bazemore, and Tim Hardaway Jr. It was a good night for Millsap, who can always be counted on to show up big for Atlanta. Millsap led the Hawks with 22 points, one assist, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Howard also had a double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds, and Schroeder put up 15 points and nine assists. Tim Hardaway Jr., with an increased confidence level having shot 49 percent from the three-point-range over the last 10 games, contributed 12 points, six assists, and three rebounds. Most refreshing was the return of Kent Bazemore, who has been in a slump most of the season, adding 16 points, two assists and two rebounds to the board.
The Atlanta Hawks have a tough week ahead with a game at home on Monday night against the LA Clippers, heading to Chicago to take on the Bulls on Wednesday, and returning to Atlanta on Friday to take on the Washington Wizards. Will the Hawks be able to maintain their newfound confidence?