Ten observations from watching Hawks 96, Grizzlies 94 on my couch. . .
1. The Hawks led by seven at halftime in spite of some shaky play. They appeared to take control with a third-quarter run led by Dennis Schroder, Kent Bazemore and Taurean Prince. But the Grizzlies rallied with shot-making and the Hawks couldn't finish at the end. With 13 seconds left and the Hawks down two, Schroder had an open lane in transition and John Collins had good position for a potential putback. But Schroder pulled the ball out. After a timeout, Ersan Ilyasova missed a corner three-pointer and Kent Bazemore missed a three from the opposite corner at the buzzer. The Hawks screamed for a foul against Tyreke Evans on the closeout against Ilyasova.
2. The Hawks were at their best offensively when Schroder (11 assists) probed the defense and made the right decisions. Schroder was very good offensively in the first half but wasn't as effective in the second.
3. This was the best defensive effort for Schroder that I can remember this season. He was active and aware while hounding Andrew Harrison, fought over picks and aggressively challenged three-point shooters. The defense looks a lot different when Schroder isn’t such an easy target to take out with screens.
4. Kent Bazemore (19 points on 15 shots) was getting open shots all night and making them. He was sliding into space for catch-and-shoot jumpers and creating good chances off the dribble.
5. Taurean Prince followed up his strong game at Cleveland with an offensive no-show against the Pistons. He was back to scoring against the Grizzlies: 17 points on 14 shots, including 5-for-8 on threes.
6. Ilysasova (4-for-8 field shooting ) is 33-for-53 over his previous four games. Ilyasova also is a smart team defender. When bigger defenders back him down he usually finds a way to bother their shot. What's impressive about Ilyasova's knack for taking charges is that everyone know he's going to do it. With Dewayne Dedmon on the injured list, Ilyasova could be the most valuable trade piece for the Hawks.
7. The Hawks had rough defensive games against two talented opponents (Cavs and Pistons) playing at a high level. The Grizzlies are not as good, especially without Mike Conley, and they appeared to have little idea how to respond to the Hawks’ spirited defensive effort early in the game. Memphis had eight turnovers within the first 10 minutes.
8. The Hawks faltered from late in the first quarter into the second, same as they did last night against the Pistons. Much of the issue against Detroit was on defense; this time the offense bogged down. The issues started when Isaiah Taylor replaced Dennis Schroder at point guard. Plus/minus doesn’t always tell the true story but I think Taylor’s -8 in five first-half minutes was well-earned. Budenhozler opted to use DeAndre' Bembry at point guard for a stretch of the second half.
9. Miles Plumlee has bad moments, especially when he gets rushed when trying to score around the basket. But he’s a solid defender and the most physical big on the roster. Officials let Plumlee and Gasol bang in the paint and Plumlee held his ground. It will be interesting to see if Plumlee is a regular part of the rotation or if he played ahead of Tyler Cavanugh the past two nights because of the matchups.
10. John Collins (two points, seven rebounds in 23 minutes) started collecting rebounds as soon as he entered the game. He almost always does something good soon after he takes the floor. It never stops being impressive that Collins can quickly launch himself from a standstill to a very high point while everyone else is still gathering themselves. He's getting better as a passer, too (four assists tonight).
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