When the Hawks dropped two straight road games to below .500 opponents days earlier, I wrote that the Hawks could be in a for a rough stretch at home against two of the better teams in the NBA. Little did I know that rather than an offensive improvement, the stifling Hawks defense would be the team’s saving grace.
The Hawks dispatched the top team in the Eastern Conference, the Indiana Pacers, by a 97-87 mark Wednesday. Pero Antic tied a career high 16 points on 10 shots, signifying his growing role in the Hawks offense. Kyle Korver was almost automatic from the field, going 6-8 for 17 points and Mike Scott had 15 big points off the bench. The Pacers were held to 40.2% shooting, including just 1-8 from the 7’2″
Gigan center Roy Hibbert. That the well undersized Pero Antic and Elton Brand were able to contain Hibbert without the use of foul trouble is a huge positive for a team often criticized as lacking a true defensive center.
Two days later, the Hawks put away the Houston Rockets, a current playoff team in the brutal Western Conference, despite a late rally 83-80. This was the first time that the Hawks faced Atlanta-native Dwight Howard as a member of the Rockets and bottled him up pretty well to the tune of just 15 points and 11 rebounds. Paul Millsap led the way with 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. Although he didn’t score, Elton Brand led the defensive charge once again, grabbing 11 rebounds and recording 3 blocks. Kyle Korver ran his consecutive games with a three pointer streak to 106 games.
So there you have it. The Hawks are 2-2 over the last 4 games, with losses to two weaker foes and wins against championship contenders. Go figure. We’ll look for the Hawks to develop some consistency in the coming days, starting Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies