The Atlanta Hawks snapped a four-game road losing streak and cooled off a red hot Memphis Grizzlies team in the process. It was Atlanta's first win in Memphis since December of 2012 and with a difficult stretch of games coming up, it was a great win to get.
Things started anything but well for the Hawks as Memphis rattled off 36 first quarter points while shooting 70 percent from the floor. The opening quarter was capped off by a 65-foot bomb by Vince Carter that made you wonder if this was destined to be Atlanta's night. However, the Hawks did a good job of weathering the storm and trailed just 58-53 at the intermission.
The three-point shot has long been a staple of Atlanta's offense and the Hawks fired away from distance and were able to stay in the game. The Hawks finished the game 14 of 39 from three-point range which was the first time in franchise history that they had attempted more three-point shots than two point shots. They never quit attacking however and finished with 30 points in the paint and converted 32 of 36 free throw attempts.
"I felt like there were a lot of open opportunities," Mike Budenholzer said when asked about the high number of three-point attempts. "I didn't feel like any of them were bad shots or contested shots. I think Memphis is a very good defensive team. They make things difficult in the paint. Sometimes you have to take what the defense gives you. If you can make them pay, hit them at a decent percentage, whatever we had offense was not our problem."
After struggling defensively in the first quarter, Atlanta zeroed in for the remainder of the game. Memphis converted on 14 of 20 field goal attempts in the first quarter. They were just 21 of 60 for the remainder of the game. The Grizzlies didn't shoot above 40 percent from the field in any of the remaining quarters and were just 6 of 20 in the fourth quarter.
Paul Millsap was once again the catalyst for the Hawks as he finished with 23 points and 14 rebounds to carry the load. He has scored at least 22 points in each of the last three games and logged a double-double in four of the last five games.
Jeff Teague and Al Horford come alive in the second half
At halftime of Friday's game, Jeff Teague and Al Horford had attempted two shot attempts combined. They wasted little time getting themselves involved in the second half. Teague scored eight of his 20 points in the third quarter while Horford helped Atlanta put the game away with 10 points including a pair of made three-pointers in the fourth.
Teague, in particular, had an outstandingly efficient game finishing with 20 points and seven assists on just seven field goal attempts. He knocked down 4 of 6 three-point attempts and was a perfect 6 for 6 at the free throw line.
Kent Bazemore picks up where he left off
Kent Bazemore was back in the starting lineup Friday night for the first time since suffering an ankle injury against Utah. Bazemore sat out five games, but picked up right where he left off giving the Hawks a much needed boost of energy. Ten of Bazemore's 14 points came in the first half and helped the Hawks to withstand that early charge by the Grizzlies.
The best news in regards to Bazemore was that he showed no ill-effects from the ankle injury and didn't appear to be hampered in any way. He ended up playing 26 minutes which was big with Thabo Sefolosha inactive for the game.
Mike Muscala helps off the bench
Atlanta's bench has been a sore spot of late and it struggled again early against the Grizzlies. One bright spot was the play of Mike Muscala who scored a season-high 11 points and grabbed six rebounds in 24 minutes. With Tiago Splitter sidelined with a sore hip, Muscala has seen an increase in minutes and held his own defensively against Marc Gasol on Saturday.