The Atlanta Hawks, fresh off back-to-back losses for the first time this season, entered Tuesday evening as a solid favorite against the New Orleans Pelicans. 48 minutes later, the team was reeling on the heels of a third consecutive defeat, and this one came in ugly fashion by a final score of 112-94.
In the first few minutes of the game, the Hawks looked... fine. In short order, though, the script was flipped, as the Pelicans zoomed to an 18-1 run to claim a 26-10 lead. New Orleans was buoyed by their starting backcourt of Tim Frazier and E’Twaun Moore, who combined for 15 of the first 17 points, but Atlanta’s defense was also at fault and that was a prevailing theme in the early going.
Pelicans star Anthony Davis left with a knee injury when the score was 26-12 and, under normal circumstances, one would assume Atlanta would close the gap as a result. Instead, the opposite took place.
The Pelicans stretched the advantage to a staggering 34-14 at the end of the first quarter, and that wasn’t the end of the avalanche. In fact, New Orleans built the advantage to as many as 30 (!) points at 51-21, as the Hawks struggled to generate stops. Atlanta would “answer” by slashing the margin to 16 late in the half, but the visitors finished strong and the halftime margin was 66-44.
New Orleans shot a blistering 61 percent from the floor and 6 of 11 from three before halftime, and a lot of that damage was due to poor defense. Atlanta’s offense, after a miserable first quarter, responded with 30 points in the second quarter, but the overall product was miserably poor and the scoreboard reflected that level of play.
After the break, things were better, but not by a wide enough margin. The home team actually dug an even deeper hole, trailing by as many as 35 points in the third quarter, but the Hawks did “battle back” to a 24-point deficit at the end of the third quarter and an 18-point hole early in the fourth.
From there, though, the Pelicans (led by the inexplicable return of Davis) put the game away by extending the lead back to 105-82 with less than six minutes remaining, and it was garbage time from there. Taurean Prince, Ryan Kelly and DeAndre Bembry (at point guard!) got to play extended minutes, but aside from that, there was little intrigue in the final score.
The Hawks were miserable, the Pelicans made shots throughout the evening and Atlanta dropped what was a fairly embarrassing home loss. On Wednesday, the team faces a quick turnaround with a road game against the Indiana Pacers and, hopefully, things will be markedly better in that contest.