PHILADELPHIA – Three years ago, Dennis Schroder was a valuable reserve on a Hawks team that went 60-22.
Now he is among the league’s leading scorers at over 22 points a game, but playing for the Eastern Conference’s worst team.
“Right now it hurts,” he said Wednesday night, after the Hawks fell to 1-7 with a 119-109 loss to the resurgent Philadelphia 76ers.
The Hawks, who have dropped seven straight, fell behind 25-8 and 27-10 to start the game. Then Schroder began attacking the rim, and everybody else followed suit. Before long the points in the paint piled up, and Philadelphia’s lead melted away.
Schroder had 14 of his 25 points as the Hawks outscored the Sixers 27-11 over a seven-minute, 45-second span beginning late in the second quarter, and Atlanta suddenly owned a 73-66 lead.
It didn’t last. The Sixers began trapping Schroder on pick-and-rolls. They also sicced backup point guard T.J. McConnell, a defensive demon, on him. Suddenly the Hawks’ offense slowed, and in the fourth quarter it ground to a halt.
The Hawks didn’t have a point the first 5:21, and didn’t have a field goal the first 6:22. In all they shot 5-for-20 and were outscored 26-16 in the period.
“We’ve got to give them credit,” Schroder said. “They came out with energy in the fourth quarter. … They just picked up their energy a little bit. I think we kind of backed up. You can’t be like that. You’ve got to be better, more aggressive, even if they’re aggressive – pass it around and then go to the basket, try to attack the basket and put pressure on the rim. I’ve got to do a better job of that, too. It starts with me, anyway.”
It starts, and often ends there. Whole different role for him.
“I’ve got to do a better job,” Schroder said. “Like I said before, keep everybody together, stick to the game plan and win some games. I’m not going to stop until we get it.”