The Atlanta Hawks snapped a personal two-game losing streak and a long nine game streak to the Miami Heat with a 121-114 win Monday evening at Philips Arena. The win was a total team effort with big performances from a number of key players.
The 71 first half points scored by the Hawks immediately jumps off the page in this one as yet another 120+ point performance. However, it was the team's defense late that head coach Mike Budenholzer pointed to as a reason for the victory.
"With all the scoring that happened in the first half, we talked about one team was going to make more stops in the second half. We wanted to be that team to make the commitment to get some stops defensively and still continue to play with pace and continue to score at the same pace. I think two 20-point (defensive) quarters, in the third and fourth quarters, is a real positive for our group to find a way to get some stops against a very talented, well-coached team. We were able to score just enough to find a way to get a win.
Normally getting into a track meet with the Heat is a recipe for disaster. The Hawks made it work on Monday because they were able to take care of the basketball and only committed 13 turnovers. Many of the turnovers they did commit resulted in the Heat having to take the ball out of bounds which is better than igniting the fast break.
Atlanta got big performances from a number of players and the win was purely a team effort.
"I was happy with the competitiveness of our group, said Budenholzer. "Competing defensively, competing offensively. When you are competing offensively, lots of times that means sharing the ball with your teammates and playing unselfishly. Thirty-three assists is a real positive for our group."
Paul Millsap got off to a quick start scoring 20 of his team-high 26 in the first half. He got in some foul trouble in the third but the Hawks played through him down the stretch. He was able to get to the line for four key free throws and also had assists to Pero Antic and Kyle Korver late in the game. It was a good time to have an All-Star worthy performance with selections for the game right around the corner.
DeMarre Carroll was also big at both ends of the floor. He was tasked with guarding LeBron James for most of the game. James still finished with 30 points but dare I say it was a tough 30 with Carroll battling him all the way. DeMarre was also huge on the offensive end going 8-13 from the field for 19 points. His three with 5:45 remaining tied the game after Miami had gone ahead.
- With Jeff Teague out of rhythm, Budenholzer turned to Shelvin Mack who put up another solid performance. Mack finished with 13 points and seven assists. It was the second straight game that Mack has led the team in assists.
- Speaking of assists, the Hawks racked up 33 assists on 42 made baskets. Five different players recorded at least four assists in the game.
- Miami's defense basically ignored Pero Antic early and he made them pay scoring 10 of Atlanta's first 15 points. Antic finished with a career-best 17 points on 7-10 shooting to go along with six rebounds.
- Elton Brand continues to play well as he played some big minutes in the second half and finished with eight points on 4-5 shooting to go along with five rebounds.
- Lou Williams first six points came at the free throw line which is a good sign and he knocked down a pair of threes in the second half to finish with 12 points.
- Mike Scott continues to impress off the bench as he scored 12 more points and played some key minutes defensively in the third quarter.
- In all it was a sterling performance for the Hawks bench who outscored the Heat's reserves 45-21.
- James Nunnally's 10-day contract ended on Monday and there is no word on whether or not the Hawks will look to give him another. If they decide to it would likely come on Wednesday which would have him in uniform for six more games.