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Bench comes up big again for Hawks in win over Pacers

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Atlanta’s bench unit comes up big again in win over Pacers

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Indiana Pacers Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

It has been the case virtually all season but the Atlanta Hawks received another splendid effort from the bench in Wednesday’s win over the Indiana Pacers.

Mike Muscala continued his strong start to the season scoring 10 of his 13 points in the first quarter. He connected on 4 of 7 field goal attempts and knocked down a pair of three-pointers. Muscala is now shooting 58 percent from the field and 39 percent from three-point range for the season.

Malcolm Delaney also had another strong game and saw the bulk of playing time down the stretch in the fourth quarter. Delaney also finished with 13 points on 3 of 6 shooting. He recorded just one assist but was a team-best plus-26 in the game. Delaney is plus-127 on the season which is the 10th best total in the entire league. His numbers may not jump out at you but the Hawks have been really good this season when he has been on the floor.

Thabo Sefolosha made his second start of the season after Mike Budenholzer opted to rest Kyle Korver for the second game of the back-to-back. Sefolosha finished with four points, eight rebounds and three assists but was key on the defensive end of the floor in his matchup with Paul George. George finished with 18 points but was just 6 for 22 from the field including 2 of 11 shooting from three-point range.

Korver’s absence also allowed for rookie Taurean Prince to move into the rotation and he again responded well with eight points and four rebounds in 16 minutes of action. Prince was 3 of 4 from the field and is showing that he can provide meaningful minutes when called upon.

The point guard matchup that wasn’t

Much of the talk coming into the game centered on the matchup at point guard between Atlanta’s Dennis Schröder and former Hawk Jeff Teague. Both struggled to find a rhythm throughout with Schröder finishing with nine points, two assists and four turnovers while going 3 for 11 from the field in 25 minutes.

Teague was a little better finishing with 11 points, eight assists and five steals but was just 5 for 15 from the field and 0 for 5 from three-point range in 39 minutes of action.

Kent Bazemore’s struggles continue

Kent Bazemore had another tough night finishing with eight points on just 3 of 13 shooting to go along with four turnovers. He did finish with four steals and provided good defensive effort but the Hawks are going to need him to figure things out offensively at some point.

Bazemore is shooting just 38 percent from the field and 29 percent from three-point range on the season. He is shooting just 34 percent over his last five games and has missed nine straight three-point attempts. He appears to be pressing on offense and his shot selection has suffered of late.

It is still early, and the Hawks probably aren’t worried about Bazemore’s performance but his numbers so far this season are eerily similar to what they were in the second half of last season. Bazemore shot 49 percent from the field and 39 percent from three-point range over the first 50 games of last season. His field goal percentage dipped to 42 percent and his three-point percentage tumbled to just 29 percent in 25 games after the All-Star break.

Despite that drop off, Atlanta elected to make Bazemore a key piece of its core going forward when they gave him a four-year, $70 million deal in free agency last season. It is still too early to judge that decision but the early returns haven’t been great.

Tough stretch coming

Wednesday’s game was the first a of a five-game trip for the Hawks. They kick off a four game western swing on Friday with a stop in Utah before moving on to the west coast. Here is a look at their upcoming schedule:

Friday, November 26 - at Jazz - 8 p.m. ET
Sunday, November 27 - at Lakers - 9:30 p.m. ET
Monday, November 28 - at Warriors - 10:30 p.m. ET
Wednesday, November 30 - at Suns - 9:00 p.m. ET
Friday, December 2 - vs Pistons - 8:00 p.m. ET
Saturday, December 3 - at Raptors - 7:30 p.m. ET