Just 48 hours after putting up their worst performance in Las Vegas, the Atlanta Hawks responded with easily their best showing on Thursday evening. The offense was explosive (especially from long distance) and the defense was aggressive and sound, as the Hawks rolled to a 88-65 win over the Portland Trail Blazers to earn a spot in the Summer League quarterfinals.
On a day when John Jenkins was (again) sidelined due to his back, rookie guard Stephen Holt had a day. In addition to becoming an internet legend (Steve Holt!), the former St. Mary's guard racked up 15 points on 5 for 10 shooting (and 3 for 4 from 3-point range) including a stretch in the third quarter where he knocked down three consecutive triples. The jury is out as to whether all of his production will be enough to earn a training camp invite to compete for a permanent roster spot, but he has been impressive.
Adreian Payne also caught fire from the outside, scoring 14 points on just 7 field goal attempts in the first half on the way to 19 points on 7 for 11 shooting on the day. The first round pick continues to flash a very solid jump shot in addition to big-time athleticism and a quality motor, and he has done nothing to disappoint in Las Vegas. Next to Payne, second-rounder Edy Tavares was, again, impressive, changing countless shots and showing off a mid-range game offensively to go along with an already solid jump hook attack.
Mike Muscala struggled a bit in getting his shots to fall, shooting just 5 for 14 from the floor, but the second-year big man continued to show off a varied offensive game, and his repeated ability to spin away from would-be defenders is encouraging. Dennis Schröder wasn't spectacular by any stretch (2 for 9 shooting, 7 points), but he added 4 assists while keeping his turnovers down and provided high quality defense on Portland's explosive guards.
With the win, the Hawks will continue their pursuit of a Summer League championship on Saturday, as they have a 6:00 pm ET tip-off against the winner of the Rockets-Cavaliers match-up later in the day on Thursday. Stay tuned for the latest.