The Atlanta Hawks were done in by a slow start at home on Sunday afternoon as a 14-point first quarter deficit was too much for the Hawks to overcome in their 90-82 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Paul Millsap was Atlanta’s top scorer with 19 points. Jeff Teague had 15 and DeMarre Carroll chipped in with 9, going 3-of-3 from downtown.
The Hawks shook off their low scoring first-quarter and outscored the Grizzlies by a combined score of 54-42 over the course of the second and third quarters. Then they had another 14-point quarter in the fourth, but much of the final period was played by reserves from both teams.
Memphis guard Jerryd Bayless was a thorn in the Hawks side all game. He played 24 outstanding minutes, shooting 8-of-9 from the field, including 6-of-6 from behind the three-point arc. Many of Bayless’ three-point shots were contested to no avail by Hawks defenders. Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer was just as baffled by Jerryd Bayless as his players. “Jerryd Bayless, did he ever miss?” asked an exasperated Budenholzer in the his postgame press conference.
Despite the loss, which dropped the Hawks to 1-4 on the preseason campaign, there were positives for the Hawks and their fans to take away from Sunday’s game. Let’s take a look at those positives as well as the negatives.
- Paul Millsap showed Hawks fans why he is so highly thought of around the league. Besides his 19 points, Millsap played a strong defensive game. He disrupted several Grizzlies possessions, cutting off passing lanes and providing terrific defensive help. It was fun to watch Millsap battle with Memphis star PF Zach Randolph at both ends of the floor. When matched up against each other, both players played physical, particularly when fighting for position in the post.
- Kyle Korver did not shoot the lights out like he did against the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday. Korver, however, continues to position himself in areas where he can get his shot off. His release, which has always been quick, looks even quicker.
- Jared Cunningham played 15-solid minutes. His stat line was not jaw dropping (8 pts., 4 rebs, 1 ast.), but Cunningham was extremely active while on the floor, coming up with several loose balls and attacking the basket. Cunningham’s future with the team is still in doubt, but he had to have made a solid case for himself against the Grizzlies. The more I see Jared Cunningham play, the more I like him.
- Jeff Teague; he seems poised to have his best season as a pro. He has played extremely aggressive throughout the preseason. He played 29 minutes on Sunday, producing 15 points and a team high five assists.
- The Hawks continue to do a good job of getting to the free throw line. The team went to the line 25 times against Memphis, making 20 (80%). The Hawks emphasis on getting to the basket is paying off. The team does not take many bad shots.
- Dennis Schroder is going to be good. He played 26 minutes on Sunday. Schroder is a harassing defender. He did get caught in screens while guarding Bayless, but Schroder plays hard and makes his man work for any points. Schroder also ran a nice fast break that finished with a Pero Antic layup.
- The Hawks continue to rack up turnovers. The team had 20 of them against the Grizzlies, several were unforced. Obviously, the Hawks will have a difficult time overcoming lost possessions, should the turnover problem continue into the regular season.
- Cartier Martin was quite underwhelming on Sunday. Martin shot 1-of-12 from the field today and was a non-factor on defense. He fails the eyeball test, too. Cartier Martin is 100 times the player I’ll ever be, but that is not good enough. I do not see how Martin fits into the Hawks plans. He has to be considered a likely cut.
- Dennis Schroder’s shooting. However, this is not a major concern. As I wrote when previewing Schroder prior to the draft, most young point guards are not productive from the field early in their careers. Schroder is no different. He shot 3-of-10 today, scoring close to the basket. Shooting from 15-feet and beyond is going to be a work in progress all season for the German rookie.
The Hawks wrap up the home portion of the preseason schedule on Tuesday against the Indiana Pacers, a team many feel will be a power this season in the Eastern Conference.