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Atlanta Hawks wilt after strong start in 82-81 loss to Memphis Grizzlies

The Hawks fell to the Grizzlies on Wednesday night despite a lights-out start and a shortened rotation.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

In what appeared to be the team's primary "dress rehearsal" for the regular season, there was a lot to like in Philips Arena on Wednesday evening. Unfortunately, there were also a great deal of issues for Mike Budenholzer and his team to work on moving forward, as the Atlanta Hawks suffered a 82-81 defeat at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies.

The first quarter was, well, a bloodbath for the Grizzlies. Atlanta got off to a 14-2 start that was punctuated by a Kyle Korver two-handed dunk (!) and a three-pointer from the game's best shooter, and things didn't improve for Memphis in a hurry. All told, the Hawks blazed to a 24-7 lead after one quarter, with the visiting Grizzlies making just 3 of 25 (not a misprint) from the field while Atlanta shot 50% from both the floor and from three-point range.

On the dark side for the home team, the first quarter was easily the best of the night. From there, Memphis roared back with great intensity, holding the Hawks to just 4 of 19 from the floor and 0 of 8 from three in the second quarter while slashing the lead to just four before the break.

The Grizzlies weren't done, either, as Memphis cobbled together a 12-0 run that turned into a 21-4 overall spurt in the second half, and when the dust cleared, the Hawks (somehow) trailed by a 67-55 margin despite the fact that the Grizzlies were shooting less than 30% from the floor. Mercifully, Atlanta rallied in the late stages of the game, riding some hot shooting from Kent Bazemore as the deficit was cut to just two within the final two minutes of the contest.

For a brief moment, it seemed as if the Hawks would escape with victory, as Paul Millsap knocked down a three to give Atlanta its first lead in quite some time at 77-76 with 1:07 remaining. However, Mike Conley answered on the ensuing possession for Memphis with a three of his own, and Atlanta would never lead again in suffering a 82-81 defeat.

Individually, it was a big night from the aforementioned Bazemore, who finished with 18 points on 7 for 10 shooting in yet another start. Al Horford (13 points, 14 rebounds) and Paul Millsap (17 points, 9 rebounds) also contributed big nights, but as a team, the Hawks shot just 38% from the floor and 31% from long range, which greatly aided in the team's demise on the scoreboard despite what was a solid defensive effort.

The Hawks will wrap up the preseason on Friday with a trip to Detroit to take on the Pistons, before opening the regular season on Tuesday at home against Stan Van Gundy's team in a "rematch" of the final preseason contest. Stay tuned.