When the season began, many people that were skeptical of the Atlanta Hawks were quick to point out the loss of DeMarre Carroll as a reason that the team would not be as successful this season. Through the first two weeks of the season, Kent Bazemore has done his best to quiet that talk.
Bazemore was superb again Saturday night scoring a career-best 25 points while helping lead the Hawks to an 114-99 win over the Washington Wizards. The win extended Atlanta's winning streak to seven games and helped them come through a difficult five games in seven days stretch undefeated.
" I think both teams really competed tonight," Mike Budenholzer said following the game. For three-quarters, it was very very close. I don't think either team really played that great. But I thought both teams competed at a high level, getting after it, loose balls, turnovers, all of those things. We were able to find a way to do it a little bit longer, a little bit harder, which is something you have to do to be a good team so we feel fortunate. Washington is very good. We had some guys individually who played very well. Collectively, I was just proud of how we competed."
Individually Bazemore was outstanding. He scored 16 of his 25 points in the second half, knocked down 10 of 15 field goal attempts including 4 of 7 from long range. He added four rebounds, three assists and two steals for good measure and did not record a single turnover.
He upped his season average to 12.1 per game to go along with 50 percent shooting from the field and 55.6 from three-point range. That includes his scoreless performance in the season opener which is the only game the Hawks have lost so far this season.
"I think he is getting a lot of good rhythm shots," Budenholzer said when asked about Bazemore's string of good performances. "He's getting a lot of opportunities...hopefully we're creating a lot of pressure on the paint, creating a lot of pressure on the rim. He can do that too. The great thing is, obviously he's making shots, but he can attack and break the defense down, and he finishes also. Obviously he had a very good game."
Bazemore's offensive success so far this season can be tied to his jump shot particularly on the corner three. Through eight games, he is 15 of 27 from three-point range and 10 of 14 from the corners.
Atlanta's offense finds rhythm
It probably would not be correct to say that the Atlanta Hawks struggled out of the gate offensively, but it was clear they were not hitting on all cylinders. Over the last two games, however, they have found their rhythm totaling 67 assists while scoring at least 114 points in each.
"We talked a little bit about it at halftime," Budenholzer said when asked about his team's offensive performance against the Wizards. "If we could keep moving the ball, we felt we'd get great looks. They were really trying to put a lot of pressure on the pick and roll game, so if we could get it out of the first look on the backside, we thought we could get some opportunities. The guys did it, It's things I think they're accustomed to doing, and they executed well."
With Tiago Splitter resting, Mike Muscala saw his most extensive playing time since opening night playing 19 minutes while finishing with seven points and two rebounds. Justin Holiday received all of the backup wing minutes and totaled six points, three rebounds and one assist.