The Atlanta Hawks earned a much-needed victory Monday night with a 112-97 win over the Dallas Mavericks at Philips Arena to snap a three-game losing streak. It was a welcome sight for Atlanta who's recent slump had left them searching for answers of late.
"Defensively, the energy was in a good place, and offensively, it was one of the better games, for sure, in the last little while," Mike Budenholzer said following the game. "I thought Jeff really set the stage, set the tone, both attacking and shooting when he's open and letting it fly. Dennis was good off the bench too. They were both good. It's a good win for us to come back tonight and play the way we did on both ends of the court. It was important."
Monday's performance was a welcomed sight following one of their most lackadaisical efforts of the season in Sunday's loss in Miami. It has been an inconsistent season overall for Atlanta but January was consistently bad for the most part. While Atlanta has seen its defensive numbers improve of late, the offense has lagged behind. Monday's 112 point performance was just the second time in the last seven games that the Hawks have scored more than 95 points.
"I guess that's why it's a sport," Budenholzer said when asked about the difference in Monday's performance and Sunday's in Miami. "Some of us stay up later watching film and wondering why. A lot of times, it's a matter of a group with a lot of pride and character. It's a credit to them. They took it upon themselves to make sure that they're playing with force and energy. When you do those things, things kind of fall into place. You let it fly. Good things happen. The ball moves. You're cutting, driving. We're human. Tonight was a good night for us."
Those good nights have been much easier to find at home rather than on the road. Atlanta improved to 16-8 at Philips Arena this season and a significant split in the numbers has emerged. Atlanta is shooting just a tick under 36 percent from three-point range at home and converting on just 32.5 percent on the road. The advanced numbers reflect this as well with the Hawks boasting a net rating of 6.7 at home versus a -1.5 on the road.
Jeff Teague breaks out in a big way
January was a tough month for Jeff Teague as his play slumped to an all-time low and he once again heard his name mentioned in various trade rumors. Teague made sure he got February off to a good start as he returned to All-Star form against the Mavericks finishing with 32 points, five rebounds, and eight assists in just 28 minutes of action.
"There was no conversation before tonight's game specifically," Mike Budenholzer replied when asked about Teague attacking the basket against the Mavericks. "He knows how important it is that he drives and attacks and puts pressure back on the paint and the basket. He has to make good decisions, he has to score, he has to find his teammates. He has to let it fly some when he's open at the three-point line."
Teague let it fly against Dallas knocking down 5 of 6 three-point attempts and 12 for 15 from the field overall.
"My team was playing really well," Teague said following the game. We were playing hard and playing with a lot of energy."
Teague's answer on what was different about Monday's game?
"I made some shots. That's really it"
"I was just being aggressive. We played with a lot of energy and played with a lot of speed. When we play like that, we're a really good team."
It has been written many times about the importance of point guard play to the Hawks. Teague and Dennis Schroder controlled the action on Monday and he's right. They are a really good team when this duo outperforms their competition.
Kyle Korver comes up big against the Mavericks
Jeff Teague wasn't the only member of Atlanta's backcourt to have a big game against the Mavericks. Kyle Korver finished with 16 points and knocked down 4 of 7 three-point attempts to snap a 1 for 9 stretch over the last two games.
"In some ways. I think we were just playing for pride," Korver said about the win. "We were pretty down after last night as a team. A lot of us individually didn't play well. And as a team, we didn't play well. We didn't compete how we wanted to. It's been a tough little stretch for us as a group. Tonight even on a back-to-back, we came out with the proper energy. Jeff really led us with that, being aggressive and making plays. The court just seemed to open up for the rest of us. Everyone was playing with the pass and making the extra pass in time to make some shots."
It is important to note that Korver might be having one of the worst three-point shooting seasons of his career, but he is still performing at above the league average. He set the bar very high during his first three seasons in Atlanta, and that three-point percentage is once again heading in the right direction.