The Atlanta Hawks found their way Wednesday night with a 103-95 win over the Miami Heat to snap a seven-game losing streak. The way Atlanta has struggled for the last two weeks, a win in any capacity looks good. The Hawks were up to the task pounding a depleted Heat team in the paint to earn the victory.
“Collectively, we were pretty good and individually Dwight, Paul and Dennis were especially good,” Mike Budenholzer told reporters after the game. “It’s good. I think we can play a lot better. We can get better. The work the guys put in the last couple days....the ball movement, the 27 assists is better. I think we need to keep building and keep getting better, but it’s good to get a win.”
Atlanta hammered away at Miami inside to the tune of a 58-26 advantage in bench points. The Hawks frontcourt tandem of Dwight Howard and Paul Millsap put up big numbers but Budenholzer indicated that it was the guards who had the most impact.
“I wouldn’t say it was an emphasis,” Budenholzer responded when asked if attacking the paint was the game plan. “Dwight and Paul just put their stamp on the game. Part of it is about our guards getting to the paint, creating help, creating opportunities, whether it’s on the offensive boards for putbacks or different things like that. It’s the guards that are moving the ball and finding them and hopefully getting to the paint.”
Howard turned in a big time performance with 23 points and 17 rebounds on an efficient 9 of 11 shooting in 34 minutes.
“All we’ve been thinking about since the last game is how we can come in and get this game,” Howard said. I thought our effort and our energy was in the right place and we got a good win.”
In addition, Howard was solid on the defensive end of the floor and helped hold Heat center Hassan Whiteside in check limiting him to eight points and 12 rebounds to go along with four turnovers.
“Tonight we tried to do a good job of keeping him out of the paint, making sure he didn’t get any deep catches and offensive rebounds,” Howard added. “Last game he killed us on the offensive rebounds. He was able to come in and get those easy rebounds and putbacks.”
Millsap made his mark as well with 21 points, nine rebounds, four steals and three blocks in his second game back from injury. He indicated that Atlanta’s paint attack was just a situation where they took advantage of the matchups.
“It wasn’t a point of emphasis, but it never is,” Millsap said on the points in the paint. “We just get out there and play. We get out there and whatever matchups we have, as players we have to see it and try to exploit it as much as possible. I think we did a great job of doing that tonight.”
Atlanta has struggled with turnovers throughout the season and they added 14 more in Wednesday’s game. However, this time they were able to limit the damage limiting Miami to just 10 points off of those miscues.
To stop any losing streak you have to win one. The Hawks successfully accomplished that Wednesday night and it will be interesting to see if they can build upon it.
“We needed that one,” Millsap said. “It was good to get back on the winning side. It’s one game. We have to build on this.”