Another game, another blowout. The Atlanta Hawks trailed exactly once in a lopsided win over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night, and the margin was indicative of the uneven nature of the events during a 96-69 victory. Beyond that, the Hawks set a new franchise record for wins with 58, and good times were had all around.
For the second straight home game, the Hawks performed very well out of the gate and never looked back. Atlanta raced to an 8-0 run (after Phoenix scored the opening basket), and that was a lead that they would never relinquish. The Hawks shot a blistering 56% from the floor in the first quarter, and despite eight (ugly) turnovers, they held a 24-17 lead after 12 minutes.
Other than the Hawks holding a solid lead, the second quarter was marked by
questionable laughable officiating. The crew lost complete control of the game on both sides, and when the dust settled, the Hawks were whistled for four technical fouls before the halftime break. Still, Atlanta was able to hold off some flourishes from the visiting Suns, and a 55% clip from the field and a 27-16 advantage on the glass were key in holding a 9-point lead at the halftime break.
Phoenix did fire strongly out of the break, slashing the lead to five points, but that was as close as the visitors would come to a real attack on the lead. The Hawks spurted to an 11-0 run that turned into a 15-2 overall blitz, and when that ceased, the lead was 18 points before the end of the third quarter.
The final period was an exercise in futility from the Suns. Atlanta extended the lead to 25-plus points in short order, and the advantage reached the lofty heights of 31 points before the game came to a merciful conclusion. Phoenix was without Eric Bledsoe, who was unceremoniously ejected, but this was a mismatch in the truest sense of the word, and the home was able to keep the minutes down for their starters.
It was a balanced evening for the home team statistically (including a defense that , but there were a few standout performers. DeMarre Carroll continued his very strong offensive play from recent days with 16 points (on 8 of 9 shooting) and 6 rebounds, while Mike Muscala produced an outstanding effort, finishing with 16 points, 7 rebounds and 4 steals. Not to be outdone, Jeff Teague (16 points, 4 assists) and Al Horford (14 points, 5 rebounds) produced strong lines, but this one belonged to the Junkyard Dog and "Moose".
The Atlanta Hawks have their most important remaining regular season game on Wednesday evening, as they travel to Brooklyn to take on the Nets. That game, quite obviously, has a double meaning for the second time in less than a week, and it will be interesting to see how Mike Budenholzer and company approach the festivities. Stay tuned.