The Atlanta Hawks lost for the seventh straight time in Denver Thursday night as they squandered away a couple of chances to take control of the game and came up just short in a 109-107 loss. Some of the same problems that have hampered the team dating back to the preseason (Perimeter D, FT shooting) were again an issue last night but the play of their bench unit was also a major factor.
Denver's reserves outscored Atlanta's by a 49-17 margin, including going 7-for-10 from three-point range. Nate Robinson was the biggest culprit, scoring 15 off the bench and going 4-for-6 from downtown. Evan Fournier added 12 points while Timofey Mozgov finished with 10 points and six rebounds. Denver's late three-guard lineup of Robinson, Ty Lawson and Randy Foye stretched the Hawks' defense thin and the result was a number of wide open looks from the three-point line.
Atlanta's bench struggles on Thursday started with Cartier Martin, who finished with just one point while going 0-for-7 from the field. Martin has been good in the early going for the Hawks, so I don't want to bash on him too much, but he played 23 minutes on Thursday despite his struggles and it shows just how little depth Atlanta has at the wing.
The bench was missing one of its key contributors in rookie Dennis Schröder who was suspended for the game by the NBA. Shelvin Mack assumed the backup point guard position and performed reasonably well, finishing with seven points, four rebounds, two assists and one insanely long three-pointer at the shot clock buzzer.
Pero Antic has seen his role increase over the last couple of games and he had moments where he played well but had a costly turnover late. Jared Cunningham made his season debut with a cameo appearance in the first half but was a non-factor. John Jenkins was another healthy DNP-CD on Thursday night.
Losing Schröder clearly hurt the effectiveness of the bench and, while Mack played reasonably well, he is not the play maker nor the defender that Schroder is. The Hawks starters did a lot of heavy lifting with superb performances from Paul Millsap and Al Horford but they are going to need more support from their bench as the season wears on.