After an impressive (and somewhat controversial) victory in Denver on Friday, the Atlanta Hawks looked to keep things rolling on Wednesday in Minnesota. In short, they were unsuccessful. The Hawks were effectively run out of the building in Minneapolis during the second half and the final result was a 104-90 drubbing at the hands of the Wolves.
The evening began as the Karl-Anthony Towns show for the Wolves, as the star big man scored 15 points on perfect shooting within the first 12 minutes of action. Fortunately for Atlanta, the rest of Minnesota’s offense sputtered. In fact, Towns scored 15 of the first 23 points for the Wolves and the Hawks managed to hold a 25-23 lead at the end of the quarter as a result.
Dwight Howard, in his first game back from a back injury, scored 7 points and grabbed 5 rebounds in the first quarter and looked spry on the whole. However, his presence alone could not save Atlanta’s defense for what has become an extended slump. Minnesota began the second quarter with a 13-4 run and never let up, scoring 31 points and taking a nine-point lead into the break.
The Hawks gave up 124.6 points per 100 possessions defensively before halftime and, frankly, the perimeter defense was woeful. No one was immune, as even Paul Millsap struggled (on both ends) and the team was likely fortunate to finish two quarters with a single-digit deficit.
To say things did not improve after the half would be... an understatement. The Wolves raced out of the gate in the third quarter, using an 18-3 run to take an 82-58 lead. From there, Minnesota would extend that advantage to as many as 26 points within the borders of the third quarter and the Wolves knocked down 10 three-pointers combined between the second and third periods.
At that point, the game was effectively over. In fact, the Hawks trotted out a lineup of DeAndre Bembry, Taurean Prince, Mike Scott, Ryan Kelly and Kris Humphries with nearly seven minutes to go in the game and that was indicative of just how weird this contest was on both ends. Atlanta did push back down the stretch to make the final score look more reasonable, but this was a blowout for all intents and purposes.
The Hawks put together a ghastly defensive performance, allowing their opponent to shoot 48.4 percent from three and score 115.7 points per 100 possessions in the game. Offensively, things were not much better, as only Dwight Howard (20 points, 12 rebounds in 21 minutes) produced what can be termed as an above-average performance on the way to 90 points.
Atlanta’s next step will take place against the New York Knicks on Wednesday night at Philips Arena. Let’s all hope things improve for that contest.