Just when it looked like everything was going to unravel for the Atlanta Hawks Tuesday night, Paul Millsap stepped in to be the calming influence. A 19-point lead had evaporated with Isaiah Thomas headed to the free throw line with a chance to cut Atlanta's lead even further. Millsap called his team together and encouraged them to finish the game.
"It was one of those moments when everything was unraveling," said Millsap, who played the previous seven seasons with Utah. "I told everyone, 'Let's finish this game.' That's my personality, to lead."
The Kings would get as close as one point but Millsap and Al Horford wouldn't allow them to get any closer. The duo scored 18 of Atlanta's 23 points in the fourth quarter and seems to be getting stronger each night out.
"Paul has a knack for scoring late (in the game)," Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. "I think both Paul and Al stepped up for us. They are working well off each other."
Millsap had his best game statistically Tuesday night in an Atlanta uniform. He finished with 25 points while going 9-for-15 from the floor. He grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds, handed out four assists, recorded four steals and one blocked shot.
For the season Paul is averaging 18.5 points and seven rebounds while shooting a crisp 57 percent from the field. He is also shooting 40 percent (2-5) from the three-point line after going 2-for-3 against the Kings. The only blemish in his game is his free throw shooting, which has slipped to just 56 percent through four games.
As the season rolls on and the Hawks get more accustomed to Mike Budenholzer's systems, we should expect even better play from Millsap who is still developing chemistry with Horford and the rest of his teammates. For 2 years, $19 million, Atlanta may have gotten the steal of the offseason.