The Atlanta Hawks grabbed a much-needed win Wednesday night defeating the hapless Sixers 127-106 at Philips Arena. Probably not smart to celebrate a lot of successes that came against a Philadelphia team that has won just one time this season, but given the way the Hawks have struggled of late, they will gladly take the performance and move on.
"It's good to see a lot of guys individually play well," Mike Budenholzer said after the game. "Collectively, I thought the group's energy and effort was pretty good. We had a couple of stretches where we could have been better but overall it was a step in a good direction."
It was also a step that the team needed to take after three straight sub-par outings. Atlanta came into the game having shot less than 40 percent from the field in each of their last two games, both losses to the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat. The Hawks knocked down 62 percent of their field goal attempts on Wednesday and were 10 for 21 from three-point range.Perhaps the best news for Atlanta was that their point guards were once again driving the offense.
"I thought Jeff came out with an aggressive mindset," Budenholzer said. "Jeff hit some shots early. Jeff was really good. Other guys followed. Dennis was good and made some shots. That always opens things up for him. I thought those two were really good. Dennis was playing so well he earned his stay on the court. They cut it to 15 there and he went in and made a couple of plays, and got us back in a comfort level. Defensively, he was good too."
Schroder has been up and down all season but had one of his best games on Wednesday. He finished with 17 points and seven assists to go with just one turnover in 23 minutes. Better yet, he looked in control and poised while controlling the offense. Jeff Teague bounced back from a pair of subpar games with 18 points and four assists on 6 of 9 shooting. All of the pieces of the puzzle are important for Budenholzer's offense but when the point guards play well, the Hawks usually follow suit.
"I think when we play fast or a little more uptempo we get easier shots," Teague said when asked about the pace of the game. "When we walk the ball up and try to get into our motion it makes it tough, no one gets the open looks. So when we play with a lot of pace and setting screens and just moving with a different kind of flow we get easier shots."
It also felt like the Hawks made a more concerted effort to get Al Horford off to a good start. Horford scored eight of his 17 points in the first quarter and helped Atlanta to an early lead. Paul Millsap took over in the third going 4 of 4 from the field and 5 of 5 from the line for 14 of his team-high 21 points.
"Offensively, we played harder than in recent games," Budenholzer said. "We cut harder. We screened harder. We moved the ball with pace. There are reasons sometimes why you get those good looks that go in."
It was a step in the right direction for the Hawks, but it was far from a flawless performance. Philly ended the game at 52 percent shooting and knocked down 12 of 26 three-point attempts. The Sixers also finished the game with a 32-25 advantage in the rebounding department. The Hawks were good enough defensively that this game never was in jeopardy, but a strong offensive showing covered up some breakdowns defensively.
When you are in the midst of a losing streak, the only thing that matters is getting the win and Atlanta accomplished that. The Hawks will enjoy an off-day on Thursday before opening a two-game trip in Boston on Friday. The Hawks will play in Orlando on Sunday before returning home for three straight at Philips Arena.