Atlanta Hawks Blog

A blog about Atlanta’s NBA franchise, from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Ten observations from Hawks victory over Jazz

Ten observations from Hawks 104, Jazz 90. . . .

1. The Hawks won with an impressive second-half performance in which they matched the Jazz's intensity and played with much more purpose. The Hawks have won four of their past six games and seven of their last 14. Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer: "The second half, the way we competed, to match the aggressiveness, to match the physicality . . . I thought our competitive spirit was better."

2. Budenholzer spent much of the first half urging Hawks players to move without the  ball. They finally did that after halftime while gaining separation with a 13-3 run to close that third quarter that continued into an 8-0 run to begin the fourth. Dennis Schroder and Taurean Prince were the main offensive protagonists when the Hawks got going. Budenholzer: "Defensively, (the Jazz) have a philosophy to get into you and make everything hard. If you get on your heels at all, you are going to have a long night in mud. It felt like in the second half we were able to cut harder, screen harder, move better, including moving the ball."

3. Budenholzer pregame on countering Utah's size with size: "Can we make them pay and maybe pull their bigs away from the rim? They are such good shot blockers and such good defenders in the paint. . . . Luckily even though we are bigger and playing more traditional bigs, our bigs are comfortable shooting threes and shooting a lot of threes." That doesn't include Miles Plumlee, who played just 10 minutes, or John Collins (who did make a three). The shooting bigs do include Ersan Ilyasova, Dewayne Dedmon Mike Muscala but they combined to shoot 1-for-6 on threes.

4. The Hawks didn't allow much space to high-scoring rookie Donovan Mitchell. He needed 13 shots for 13 points and committed six turnovers vs. zero assists. Kent Bazemore did most of the work but Dennis Schroder also had good moments checking Mitchell. Bazemore: "He's a good player. He's young. I tried to match his energy. He plays extremely hard."

5. Early in the game the Hawks seemed content to let Ricky Rubio fire away from the perimeter. Good call: Rubio missed his first five shots, part of Utah's 0-for-10 start, leading to a quick hook from coach Quinn Snyder. But eventually Rubio (six assists) stopped shooting and started weaving through the Hawks’ defense and setting up his teammates for dunks and layups.

6. Budenholzer pregame on Schroder: "He’s always been kind of that scorer’s mentality and we are pleased with how he’s growing as a facilitator and learning to balance scoring and finding the open teammates and creating opportunities for his teammates and trusting his teammates." This wasn't a  game in which Schroder (two assists in 24 minutes) showed that growth. But Schroder he did have 20 points on 18 shots with a 6-for-6 night at the free-throw line.

7. With Schroder going 3-for-9 with no assists in the first half, it was up to Malcolm Delaney to get the offense going. He did so by continuing his recent stretch of good play: six assists against two turnovers in 15 first-half minutes. Delaney’s plus-seven in the half was legit. Isaiah Taylor didn't leave the bench until garbage time.

8. Collins produced just one rebound in 10 minutes of the first half. Once Collins got going he made it tough for the Jazz around the basket and his energy and athleticism lifted the Hawks. (But on one first-half play old pro Joe Johnson illustrated how Collins needs more strength when he created space with a well-timed bump to the rookie’s chest and stuck a short jumper.)

9. Taurean Prince had two turnovers and one field goal in nine first-half minutes. There came a point in the third quarter when you could see he’d had enough of that and asserted himself offensively. Prince had 10 points on seven shots in the third period.

10. Luke Babbitt, once a rotation mainstay at the four but little-used over the last month, made a first-quarter appearance on the wing. His Jazz counterpart, Royce O’Neale, made all four of his field-goal attempts on the way to eight points in the first half.


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About the Author

Michael Cunningham has covered the Hawks and other beats for the AJC since 2010.