The Atlanta Hawks got a bit of revenge for a heartbreaking double overtime loss earlier this season with a 30-point blowout win over the Charlotte Hornets. Not much has gone right for Charlotte since that win and they limped into Philips Arena on Saturday under the weight of an eight game losing streak.
About the worst thing Atlanta could have done would have been to allow the Hornets to hang around early. The Hawks came out of the gates quickly and led 28-17 at the end of one. They outscored Charlotte 36-11 in the second to blow the game wide open. Atlanta then emerged from the locker room and began the second half with a 14-6 run before taking the foot off the gas and coasting home to victory.
Following the game, the sentiment in the locker room was that they needed to keep building off of their recent success.
"That was a good effort and hopefully we can build from it," said head coach Mike Budenholzer. "The execution and effort and the activity was good. That's always more important than any concept or scheme. The guys have really committed and were very good defensively. We can't rest. We have to get better."
DeMarre Carroll said that Budenholzer's post game speech to the team echoed that sentiment. The team can't rest and has to continue to improve. "Let's get better. We have a day off. Let's get better the next day. He was pretty pleased but he still has to be Coach. We know what we did. We just have to try to build on it."
it is important to remain measured and not get too high or too low after any win or loss. Still, there were some positives takeaways for the Hawks in Saturday's win. One they seized the opportunity to take out a struggling opponent early. Second they didn't let that opponent back up off the deck until the game was well in hand. Often we have seen this team play down to the competition. They were the aggressor on Saturday from the outset and that is a refreshing sign.
When asked about the key to their success, the players and coaches will always tell you that it starts on the defensive end of the floor. After surrendering 126 points on Wednesday, Atlanta put up two solid defensive performances and held New Orleans and Charlotte to just 28 points each in the first half.
"When we first go out there, our main purpose is to start of playing good defense," said Carroll. "Like I said yesterday, our defense leads to easy offense. That's what we did tonight."
"When you're playing good defense and getting all those steals, the offense just comes easy. We just have to stay focused. Our bench was great tonight. We have to give them credit. Elton Brand came in. He hadn't played much this season. It just shows how much depth we have on our team. We just have to continue to play hard."
Carroll pointed out the contribution of Brand off he bench and his presence did seem to provide the team a lift. Brand finished with nine points, nine rebounds and three assists in 28 minutes off the bench. Brand's opportunity came at the expense of Pero Antic who was given the night off.
"Pero's fine. He's given us a lot of good minutes," said Budenholzer. "We wanted to give Elton a shot. Obviously Elton is a huge part of our group. He can come in and play. It was great to watch him come in and compete tonight."
- Thabo Sefolosha returned to the lineup and played limited minutes after missing the last two games with flu like symptoms.
- Mike Scott snapped out of a mini slump to finish with 14 points on 5-7 shooting and was 2-3 from three-point range.
- Dennis Schröder scored in double figures for the third straight game finishing with 12. It was the seventh time this season he has scored in double figures after doing so just twice as a rookie. Schröder looks more and more confident each time out.
- After Wednesday's loss, Atlanta's defensive rating had ballooned to 107.2 which was ranked 26th in the league. After back-to-back wins, the Hawks have chopped that number down to 104.9 and moved up to 19th.