Five observations from the Hawks’ 95-91 victory over the Suns Tuesday.
1. Dennis Schroder scored a game-high 27 points. The Hawks point guard did need 27 shots to do so. Schroder was 12 of 27 from the field and 2 of 8 from 3-point range.
The two 3-pointers couldn’t have come at a better time. After the Hawks lost an 18-point first-half lead, the Suns took their first lead of the game with 10:36 remaining. They pushed the advantage to seven points, 78-71, after a 10-0 run to start the fourth quarter. During the run, the Hawks were 0 of 9 from the field.
Schroder hit back-to-back 3-pointers to start a 17-1 Hawks’ run to regain the lead.
“I needed to hit some,” Schroder said. “They were shifting a lot off or me. I saw an opportunity to shoot it. I just took it with confidence. I’m glad I made them.”
2. Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer again turned to the two point guard lineup with Schroder and Jose Calderon during the comeback. The duo played a role in the Hawks charge that came up short in a loss to the Nets Sunday. They were on the floor for the Hawks fourth-quarter run against the Suns.
Calderon played all 12 minutes of the final quarter and Schroder played all but 2:03.
“The ball moves a little bit more when he’s out there,” Budenholzer said of Calderon. “We run more stuff when he’s out there. I think that’s when we are at our best. He’s figured that out individually and how he’s impacted the game for the whole group has been a huge positive.”
3. Taurean Prince started his second straight game in place of the injured Thabo Sefolosha. The rookie showed continued improvement. He finished with 15 points, including a basket and then a three-point play in the Hawks’ decisive run.
“I was just trying to be aggressive and get to the basket and get a layup,” Prince said of the and-one layup. “I saw him about to take a charge so I went to his right shoulder instead of through his chest and laid the ball in. I need to start dunking, though.”
Prince smiled and didn’t want to talk about a dunk attempt that was blocked by the Suns’ Alex Len earlier in the game.
Budenholzer said he likes what he sees from Prince but still wishes he would get more rebounds and more loose balls. Prince agreed.
“I had times when I should have boxed (T.J.) Warren out,” Schroder said. “I probably could have given more effort on loose balls, 50-50 balls. That comes with territory. The more that’s given to somebody the more responsibility you have. I’ve just got to take advantage of it and continue to get better like he wants me to.”
4. The Hawks may be getting healthy sooner rather than later. They were without three starters for the second straight game. Kent Bazemore told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he will play Wednesday at the 76ers. The starting guard has missed five games with a right knee bone bruise.
The Hawks won for the first time in nine games without Paul Millsap, who has missed six straight games with left knee synovitis. Millsap is scheduled to miss two more games after undergoing a non-surgical procedure. According to one person familiar with the situation, signs are positive Millsap won’t miss additional games. That’s good news for the Hawks with eight games remaining in the regular season and still fighting for a playoff berth.
5. The Hawks remain fifth in the Eastern Conference despite snapping a seven-game losing streak. They entered play Tuesday in a three-way tie with the Bucks and Pacers but held the tiebreaker over each. The Bucks won handily over the Hornets to keep pace. The Pacers lost to the Timberwolves in the final seconds to fall a game back. The Heat pulled out a win over the Pistons and are two games back in the final spot.
The Hawks hold a three-game advantage in the loss column over the Bulls and five games over the Pistons and Hornets, all on the outside looking in of the playoff race.
“It feels good to get a good win,” Dwight Howard said. “We’ve been struggling at home for the last month or so. We have to keep fighting. We got a good win tonight. That’s all that matters.”