The Atlanta Hawks put together another fourth quarter comeback but this time it was led by their defense and a marvelous night by Paul Millsap in a 100-97 win over the Utah Jazz at Philips Arena.
Paul Millsap put it all together and had a great game
There have been stretches this season when Paul Millsap has looked in rhythm and others where he seemed to be struggling to find his place in Atlanta's offense. He's been consistent scoring in double figures in all seven games but he finally put it all together Wednesday night with a monstrous performance finishing with 30 points and 17 rebounds. Millsap attacked the paint or fired away from three-point range where he was 4-8 on the evening.
"I was really just going after the ball and being aggressive," Millsap told reporters after the game. "I just got back to doing the things that got me here; that's getting out there and getting dirty and getting rebounds."
Jeff Teague bounced back from Monday's tough performance
Jeff Teague was held without a field goal in Monday's win over the Knicks and was on the bench at crunch time watching Dennis Schröder lead the Hawks to the win. Teague bounced back nicely on Wednesday and helped lead Atlanta's charge offensively finishing with 20 points, eight assists to go along with three steals. He was an efficient 7-12 from the field and 6-8 at the free throw line.
Thabo Sefolosha solid in his first start
The Hawks hope they won't be without DeMarre Carroll long who missed Wednesday's game with a groin injury but they are much better equipped to be without him than they were last season. Thabo Sefolosha made his first start in an Atlanta uniform against the Jazz and responded with his best offensive game of the season finishing with 10 points, five rebounds and one assist on 5-8 shooting.
Sefolosha's true value doesn't come from the offensive end of the floor but rather on the defensive side. He helped hold Utah's Gordon Hayward to just 11 points on 5-16 shooting which included an 0-7 fourth quarter.
Atlanta's defense clamped down in the fourth
For a moment, it looked like Atlanta's disinterest at the defensive end of the floor was going to cost them a win. However, they found their defensive intensity in the fourth and clamped down on a young Jazz team that didn't respond well. Utah scored just nine fourth quarter points on 4-18 shooting including 0-5 from three-point range.
"Thinking positively, looking at our defense in the fourth quarter, holding them to just nine points gave us a chance to win a heck of a game," said head coach Mike Budenholzer. "Very pleased with that effort in the fourth quarter. Just like always, we'll look at where the breakdowns were in the first and third, giving up 32 and 34 points. You have to give Utah credit. They executed well. They moved the ball well. They made shots. We found a way to win. That is important for our group. We had a lot of different guys step up and play well at different times. It's a good win for our group."
Budenholzer went on to cite his team's rebounding as a big reason for the win. The Hawks came into the game as one of the weaker rebounding teams in the league but finished the game with a 46-30 advantage on the boards.
"The difference in the fourth quarter was our effort, our determination to get contests, to play without fouling and still have an edge, and still make every shot difficult. And then we took care of the boards. Kyle had 10 rebounds. It's really tough for bigs. They're in there battling, holding and doing things that bigs do, so to have our guards come in and help out is valuable. I thought Kyle got a couple of big ones. Thabo was in there and got one at the nail at the free throw line. Not only do you have to play good defense initially, you have to finish it. It's not a stop until you get the rebound. I think we did both of those things."