From the opening bell, the Atlanta Hawks were out-classed by the San Antonio Spurs, and things snowballed from there for one of the most lopsided defeats of the season. The final margin of defeat (26 points) tells a bit of the story with regard to just how much better than the Spurs were than the Hawks in this game, but in all fairness, the score probably undersells just how non-competitive the game was for much of the 48 minutes.
The Hawks began the night by missing their first 7 shots from the floor, and while it looked for a brief moment as if they would be able to fight through that cold spell, it was the definition of false hope. Atlanta took their one and only lead of the game at 7-6 after a Jeff Teague lay-up went through the net, but that was quickly followed by a quick, 9-1 run by the Spurs, and it was off to the races.
At the end of the 1st quarter, the Hawks trailed by a 27-14 margin after committing a staggering 8 turnovers and shooting just 6-for-20 from the field. There was some early energy and attack (from Paul Millsap, in particular), but much of it was wasted movement, as the Spurs faded each mini-run from the Hawks in pushing their advantage to 21 points by the halftime break.
Reserve point guard Patty Mills provided the big-time fireworks for the Spurs in the first half, knocking down 5-for-6 from beyond the arc, including a spree of three consecutive triples that seemed to be the driving force in pushing the Hawks into a deep hole. In addition, it was a throwback half for Tim Duncan, with San Antonio's Hall of Fame big man throwing up a 14-point, 11-rebound performance in just 17 minutes of action.
After the half, things didn't improve much (if at all), and the final numbers were staggering. There wasn't a single area in which the Hawks soundly out-performed the Spurs, and for the most part, things were quite lopsided in the wrong direction. The Spurs grabbed a 54-to-36 edge on the glass, knocked down 11-for-18 from 3-point range, and despite issuing a comically bad 22 turnovers (to just 17 for Atlanta), they still managed to score 105 points despite mailing it in for much of the 4th quarter. Lastly, the 79-point effort from the Hawks represents a season-low point total for the team, and without a late "surge", it could have been much worse.
Paul Millsap served as one of the only bright spots for Atlanta with 15 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, and 2 blocks, but moreover, it was important to give him a bit of rest in a blowout loss, and Coach Bud obliged with just 26 minutes. Aside from Millsap, though, it would be grasping at straws to name positive performances, but guys like Elton Brand (9 points, 5 rebounds) and Gustavo Ayon (8 points, 7 rebounds) were functional, if not spectacular in the loss.
Mike Budenholzer was quick to indicate that the biggest takeaway from this game was for the team to move forward.
"It wasn't a good night for us on either end. I'm mostly concerned about our group putting this in the rearview mirror and moving forward, and getting ready to compete going forward."
With the quick turnaround of a back-to-back in Milwaukee to begin a 2-game road trip, there is little use for anyone to dwell on this particular defeat, and Bud's comments fall in line with that thinking.
The largest impact of the game, unfortunately, would seem to be the injury to Jeff Teague, and it comes as a huge blow to an already banged-up roster. Shelvin Mack stated that he was "just going to try to come in and play (his) game, just do what (he's) been doing minus tonight", and that is likely the best way to approach things. Still, any long-term absence from Teague would be devastating to a team already playing without Al Horford, and the collective of the team, players, and fan base should be holding their breath until a declarative announcement is made.
Kyle Korver extended his NBA-record streak of consecutive games with a made 3-pointer to 111, and he did so on his first shot attempt of the game at the 6:15 mark of the 2nd quarter. It was his only converted field goal of the night.
- Atlanta only placed 3 players in double-figures, with Paul Millsap (15 pts), Lou Williams (12 pts), and Mike Scott (10 pts) cracking the usually mundane mark.
- The Hawks committed only 5 turnovers in the second half.
- Rookie forward James Nunnally scored his first points on U.S. soil (he scored 5 in the team's London game), and he finished with 5 points and 2 rebounds in 22 minutes of court time.
- Both Gustavo Ayon and Paul Millsap added 4 steals in the game.