After a listless offensive and rebounding effort Wednesday against the Golden State Warriors, the Atlanta Hawks looked to get back to form against the perennially poor Sacramento Kings. Unlike in Oracle Arena, the Atlanta Hawks were rejoined by Al Horford and Devin Harris but without DeShawn Stevenson who was nursing a sore back. This meant a big lineup with Josh Smith at small forward and Zaza Pachulia in the starting lineup to combat DeMarcus Cousins.
The result was a 42-37 positive margin on the boards and a convincing 112-96 victory.
Jeff Teague came out of the gates on fire, starting 6-7 for 13 points in the first 10 minutes of the first quarter. With the diminutive Isaiah Thomas on him, Teague was able to blow by him and the rest of the Kings in transition for easy buckets. He finished 7-10 for 15 points but made 5 turnovers in 19 minutes of play, the most probable reason for his benching from the middle of the third quarter forward.
Lou Williams’ spectacular play, however, made it a moot point as he got to the line 11 times, almost as much as the entire Kings roster did (14). The efficiency of 21 points on 8 shots is akin to the Sistine Chapel; it’s a beautiful sight to behold.
It was a tale of three different quarters and then a fourth quarter that saw the Hawks never give up their double digit lead. Jeff Teague lead the first quarter march but Marcus Thornton and Aaron Brooks combined for 9-13 and 23 points in the second quarter to bring the Kings into a tie just before Teague hit a turnaround floater to give the Hawks a 2 point lead going into halftime. The Hawks went on a 14-1 run at the end of the third quarter to essentially ice the game.
DeMarcus Cousins had his highest career scoring average against one team (24 points per game) against the Hawks coming into Friday, but a dreadful offensive game that saw him go 2-9 in the paint alone en route to a 4-15 output should derail that statistic.
Kyle Korver continued his hot streak, going a perfect 5-5 from long range and 7-9 overall for 22 points. It was only a matter of time before he got his feet under him, considering his career track record of being a deadly shooter. In his last three games, he is an eye-popping 17-23 overall including 11-14 from three or 1.96 points per shot.
Larry Drew shortened his rotation for this game with Josh Smith, Al Horford, Kyle Korver and Zaza Pachulia all logging 34 minutes or more. Look to see if this trend, along with Teague sitting for entire fourth quarters, continues.
There were many good signs in this game and few poor ones, even considering the quality of the opponent. Look for the Atlanta Hawks to keep the momentum against lesser competition on the horizon.
Next game is at home Monday against the Orlando Magic.