Heading into Saturday night's clash with the Milwaukee Bucks, expectations weren't flying high for the Atlanta Hawks, but even after a rough start, the Hawks were able to generate a 112-87 blowout victory.
Milwaukee competed valiantly for the better part of a quarter, even holding a 14-10 lead early, but from there, the floodgates opened. Atlanta grabbed the lead with a 12-2 run that was capped by a Kyle Korver 4-point play, and from there, the Hawks would never relinquish the advantage.
It was an incredibly solid across-the-board effort for the Hawks (as you would imagine), and that was evident in the box score. Paul Millsap was the best player in the building on Saturday night, finishing with 20 points (on 8-of-14 shooting despite a slow start), 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals to lead the way in just 29 minutes. In support of Paul, Atlanta placed 6 players in double-digits in the scoring column, with Lou Williams (18 points, 5 assists in 24 minutes), Elton Brand (10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks), and Kyle Korver (12 points, including 3-for-4 from three in extending his NBA record to 112 straight games) combining to produce some substantial numbers.
DeMarre Carroll was a late addition to the lineup for the Hawks, but he showed no signs of struggling with his troublesome hamstring. Carroll was flying around from the opening tip, and if anything, it was an overly productive night for the veteran swingman with 12 points (including 3-for-3 from beyond the arc) and 6 rebounds, to go along with 4 assists and high-end defensive effort.
For good measure, several members of the extended bench saw big-time minutes in the game. Dennis Schroder, who famously entered the game while wearing the wrong shorts, played 17 minutes and 4 points and 2 assists, with James Nunnally seeing time for the second straight game with 3 points and 3 rebounds in 11 minutes. Lastly, the recently re-called Jared Cunningham scored his first points as a member of the Hawks (joining all 11 healthy members of the team in the scoring column), and he saw time in 8 minutes down the stretch
As a team, the Hawks shot a blistering 53% from the field (and 50% from 3-point land) in the game, and when a team can convert at that type of rate, a win is very likely to follow. Still, the defensive end of the floor was equally important, and the final turnover margin (19-13) allowed for several extra opportunities to convert opportunities into points.
It isn't often that the Hawks (or any other NBA team) can pencil in a win by the middle of the 3rd quarter, but with the injury bug reigning over Atlanta in recent days, this was a much-needed infusion of positivity and excitement.