The Atlanta Hawks started the 3 game homestand with as many wins as losses. Now, on the eve of a big matchup with the champion Miami Heat, the Hawks are 3 games over .500, owners of three impressive victories over lottery bound Western Conference teams.
The Hawks began their set with the Los Angeles Lakers. The big story was the return of Kobe Bryant to the site of the incident last year involving former Hawk Dahntay Jones. Much was made about Bryant rolling his ankle on Jones’ foot after a last minute shot in a 96-92 loss to the Hawks this past March. This year, Bryant was coming back from an Achilles injury he suffered at the end of the 2012-13 regular season. As a result, he only scored 8 points on 14 shots. He was still clearly hampered from the healing Achilles and the news has only gotten worse since Mondays game, as Kobe has suffered a fractured lateral tibial plateau. In his place, newcomer Nick Young had a team high 25 points. However, the Hawks overpowered the Lakers as 6 players had double figures en route to a 114-100 win.
Two days later, the Hawks matched up against DeMarcus Cousins and the Sacramento Kings. The recently traded for Rudy Gay also suited up for the visitors, after less than a season in a Toronto Raptors jersey. But Kyle Korver and the Hawks came to play, and they easily put away the Kings 124-107. Korver hit 8 of 10 threes and netted a season high 28 points along with Al Horford’s 25 points and 10 rebounds. Jeff Teague also matched a career high with 15 assists. The Hawks had 38 total assists on 47 field goals, the highest total in a game since 1997.
The wrapup of the three game stretch may have been the most impressive victory of the trio. The Utah Jazz came into town with former longtime Hawk Marvin Williams. It was also the first battle against their home teams for former Jazz players Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll. This would be Lou Williams’ game as he netted 25 points behind 6 three pointers. 12 Hawks played and all 12 scored, as the team shot 52.3% from the floor while holding Utah to 37.2% scoring and only 85 total points. Millsap had a double double against his former club and the bench had 62 of the 118 Atlanta points.
The Hawks had 104 assists, or 34.7 assist per game, over the three game homestand. They now lead the NBA in assists per game, among various other assist categories. Though the competition was less than stiff, the Hawks put away the lesser opponents without incident, which is the mark of a good and consistent team. How will they fare against one of the best teams in the association? We’ll soon find out.
The 15-12 Hawks travel to Miami to take on the 20-6 Heat Monday at 7:30 EST.