Five observations from the Hawks’ 103-91 loss to the Grizzlies Thursday night.
1. The Hawks fell apart in the third quarter. There is no other way to put it.
The Hawks shot a meager .176 from the field (3 of 17). They missed all seven 3-point attempts. More than half their points in the quarter came from the free-throw line as they were 7 of 9.
Paul Millsap was 0 of 5 and Tim Hardaway Jr. and Dennis Schroder were 1 of 4.
The Grizzlies broke open a close back-and-forth game from the first half. They led by as many as 18 points in the period. The closest the Hawks could come the remainder of the game was 10 points.
“It just felt like one of those nights,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We couldn’t catch the ball. We couldn’t shoot it. We couldn’t pass it. We just have an off night with a lot of credit to Memphis. They are into us. They were physical. They got more 50-50 balls than we did. It wasn’t our night.”
2. The Hawks held Grizzlies center Marc Gasol to eight points and six rebounds in a 17-point win on Saturday in Memphis. Gasol had nine points by the six-minute mark of the first quarter.
Gasol would finish with a triple-double, the third of his career and second of the season, with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
“He was picking everybody apart on our defense,” Hardaway said. “We can’t allow that. He got going in the first quarter and kept on going no matter who was guarding him.”
Gasol and Mike Conley combined to score the Grizzlies first 15 points of the game. The first points from a teammate didn’t come until Tony Allen hit a free throw with 4:03 left in the opening period.
“He started the game shooting,” Budenholzer said. “He looked ultra-aggressive. He shot two or three 3’s in the first two minutes of the game. He got the pick-and-pop for a little 17-footer. It looked like he was more aggressive. He made jump shots at the end of the day. That set the tone. We were in scramble mode because he was shooting the 3 well.”
3. Grizzlies coach David Fizdale, a former Hawks assistant, was asked pre-game for the key to the game. His answer was simply to stop Schroder from driving to the basket. Schroder caused the Grizzlies defense fits in Memphis.
Schroder struggled on Thursday and took a number of jump shots. His first two shots of the game were missed 3-pointers. He was 3 of 6 in the opening period, with four of the attempts from long range.
For the game, Schroder was 4 of 16 from the field and 1 of 6 from 3-point range. He played only 9:33 in the second half, including 1:18 in the fourth quarter as a group of reserves made a charge.
“A lot of the jump shots Dennis took were open, good shots,” Budenholzer said. “He’s been making them all year. He’s really gotten good on those pull-up 2’s and making 3’s. Having said that, I do feel like there were opportunities where Dennis could have attacked and maybe got the basket. A lot of his shots were good shots but he knows we need him attacking on the rim and collapsing the defense.”
4. Taurean Prince had a second strong game against the Grizzlies. He scored a career-high 17 points on Saturday and followed with 16 points on Thursday. Against the Grizzlies, Prince has 33 points, nine rebounds, two assists, two steals and five blocks
Prince had four blocks on Thursday, including a highlight-worthy stop at the rim of Brandan Wright.
“I anticipated (Mike Conley) threw the ball to the short corner,” Prince said. “My instincts took over and I just jumped. He’s a great dunker. I was aware of that as I was jumping. Instincts just took over.”
5. The Hawks should have expected the Grizzlies to come out with something to prove. They had lost by 17 points in the Hawks just five days prior in a game they never led.
“We knew they were going to come out with that mentality,” Hardaway said. “They were dogs on both ends of the floor. We just backed down, I feel like, as a team, as a whole. We didn’t block out. We didn’t make our shots. A lot of our shots were in and out. We didn’t force them into tough baskets at all. Not the Hawks’ way.”
Luckily for the Hawks, the Raptors also lost Thursday, dropping a home game to the Thunder. The Hawks remain two games behind the Raptors for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
“The sense was more that we didn’t prove anything,” Millsap said. “We should have come out more aggressive knowing that they were going to come out more aggressive. We just didn’t do that.”