Mike Budenholzer has preached the word competitiveness since becoming head coach of the Atlanta Hawks. For the most part his team has shown that quality throughout the season so thankfully what we witnessed in Thursday's loss to the Brooklyn Nets in London is not the norm.
Before I get to deep into this the Nets deserve credit. They took advantage of their size and fully put the Hawks back on their heels. If Atlanta fans needed any reminders as to just how good of a scorer Joe Johnson can be then he showed them with his 26 point performance in the first half. I didn't think it was a great defensive effort from the Hawks which we will talk about in a bit but Brooklyn deserves a lot of credit for those struggles.
The disturbing thing for the Hawks is that a lot of the same problems that occurred in Sunday's loss to Memphis showed itself again on Thursday. Even more troubling was that these two defensive efforts follow what might have been the two best efforts of the season in wins over Indiana and Houston. This team clearly isn't the same on the road as it is at home for whatever reason. It passes the eye test and the numbers back it up. Thursday's game was technically a home game but it was played over 4,000 miles from Philips Arena and the Hawks' performance suggests otherwise.
A look at the stat sheet offers very few silver linings. Atlanta loses despite shooting 49 percent from the field while going 22-22 from the free throw line. Brooklyn easily countered that with 58 percent shooting including 16-27 (59%) from three-point range. The Nets finished with 38 assists on 53 made baskets. The rebounding margin ended up 40-28 but the Hawks made up some ground in the fourth quarter when the game was already decided.
This was a blowout of epic proportions and only an earlier loss at Houston and maybe to the Knicks on the road comes to mind as being comparable.
Mike Scott did a lot of damage in the fourth quarter and ended with 17 points on 6-9 shooting. Shelvin Mack also finished with 17 points and seven assists to lead the Hawks. Jeff Teague added 16 while Paul Millsap chipped in 13. Pero Antic finished with 11. Kyle Korver was able to extend his three-point streak with a fourth quarter three but finished with just three points on 1-9 shooting. All told, Teague, Millsap and Korver combined to go 10-36 from the field.
Joe Johnson led everyone with 29 points on 11-15 shooting including 6-8 from beyond-the-arc. Atlanta's defense focused on him in the third quarter and his Brooklyn teammates picked up where he left off. Andray Blatche dominated off the bench with 20 points, 14 rebounds and six assists while Paul Pierce finished with 18 points and six assists of his own. Alan Anderson (15) and Kevin Garnett (12) also finished in double figures for the Nets.
- Dennis Schröder got back in the rotation due to DeMarre Carroll's absence and finished with eight points, two assists, two steals and three turnovers. It may be a case of me looking for something positive but I thought Schröder looked much more in control than when we last saw him. Will be interesting to see if he can work his way back into some minutes.
- Enough good things can't be said about Elton Brand who often looked like he was guarding all five Nets by himself. Brand finished with seven points, four rebounds and four blocks but had very little defensive help without Carroll.
- Antic picked up two early fouls and never really was a factor. His lack of foot speed was very apparent against Garnett and Blatche who got by him on cuts or off the dribble.
- James Nunnally made his NBA debut in the fourth quarter and knocked down a couple of jump shots including a three-pointer. He finished with five points on 2-3 shooting.