From the opening tip, the Atlanta Hawks were out-classed by the "veteran" Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday, and that was evident as the Blazers built a 24-point lead in the second half. The Hawks bounced back down the stretch to make things more competitive, but in the end, they fell to 0-3 in Las Vegas with a 91-76 defeat.
Defensively, there was a lot left to be desired in this one. The combination of Will Barton and C.J. McCollum outscored the Hawks (34-32) by themselves in the first half, and McCollum finished with a game-high 28 points, including six three-pointers. There was good energy from guys like Mike Muscala on that end, but Portland, a team with legitimate NBA players, seemed to have their way throughout the afternoon.
Dennis Schröder took a bit of a step back from his 30-point explosion on Sunday, but he was largely productive. His aggressiveness was not quite as evident from the opening whistle, but he was still effective off the dribble and finished with 16 points and 4 assists (against 6 turnovers). Aside from Schröder, Stephen Holt was the best backcourt option for the Hawks in this one, as he finished with 10 points while John Jenkins was pulled at halftime with an apparent flare-up of his back injury post-surgery. There has been no official release on Jenkins and his status moving forward, but it will be evident by whether he appears tomorrow.
Up front, Mike Muscala had the best day with 13 points and 7 rebounds in 25 minutes, and as previously mentioned, he was the most effective at deterring the Portland offense around the rim. Still, he committed 3 turnovers (which was a team-wide issue) and there is still some growth to be had, even with the noted improvement in his playmaking. First round pick Adreian Payne finished with 13 points and 7 rebounds on the day, but his highlight came on two gorgeous three-pointers in the first half, lending credence to the thought that he can excel in Coach Bud's offense. Still, it was a less than ideal day for Payne, and he could be seen talking with both Darvin Ham and Mike Budenholzer in the post-game.
The Hawks will now await their destination in the upcoming tournament, as the schedule will not be set until later this evening. Atlanta was unceremoniously blasted on Tuesday afternoon, but on the bright side, Portland is one of the best teams in the tournament, and the Hawks have a fresh slate beginning on Wednesday. Stay tuned.