The Hawks were led by Dennis Schröder’s 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting and eight assists while Dewayne Dedmon added a double-double with a career-high 20 points, 14 rebounds and five assists.
For the Kings, they were led by Zach Randolph’s 16 points while George Hill — the only other King to score in double figures — added 12 points.
Wire-to-wire demolition - a franchise night
Where to start with this one...
This game was a total demolition, and it looked as though it was heading that way from the start as the Hawks ran off to a quick 9-0 lead, with the majority of their points coming at the rim. It was incredible how poor the Kings’ defense was — they had no interest in stopping the Hawks at the rim to start this game, or in general, for that matter...
Yep... This was, indeed, a thing... 82% shooting at the rim.
The Kings eventually scored but they just had no way of stopping the Hawks on the offensive end: Dennis Schröder just toyed with George Hill at times, Dewayne Dedmon looked like an All-Star against the Kings’ backline and Luke Babbitt couldn’t miss from behind the arc.
A combination of hot Hawks shooting, good Hawks ball movement, poor Sacramento defense and cold offense (their offense was OK in spots, they got some good looks just couldn’t hit anything) quickly turned this game into a rout by the halftime.
In the end, the Hawks won by 46 points — a franchise-best, eclipsing the previous best of 44 points when the St. Louis Hawks beat Baltimore in 1965 and in the Pistons in 1994 — as eight players scored in double digits.
After knocking on the door of a winning performance for so long this season, the door not only finally opened last night but was knocked completely off of its hinges, just like it did when Hagrid bust open the door of the Dursley’s seaside escape in Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone — with a similar level of drama, as you might expect in a 46 point win.
“Obviously a lot of good stuff tonight happened for our group,” said Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer. “We’ve been competing and in a lot of games. Just for them to stay together and play the way they did on both ends of the court….
“I think a 35-point (defensive) first half and the defensive activity, defensive effort. Then the way we moved the ball. Obviously you have to make shots. You have to move it, get good looks and then guys shooting the ball with a lot of confidence. Both ends of the court come together well for us.“
“It’s tough, I think Sacramento’s on the end of a long road trip out East. I think we were a little bit fortunate to get them then. Very happy for our guys.”
It’s a good point Bud brings up. This was the final game of Sacramento’s three game, Eastern Conference road trip, and a rotten road trip at that — completely blown out by the Sixers and the Knicks with the Kings scoring just 91 and 92 points respectively in those games and suffering an average margin of defeat of 22.5 points.
It had been a fruitless trip on nearly all fronts and once this game got tough there was a sense of ‘let’s just get out of here and go home.’
I don’t want to put a downer on this win (which the Hawks absolutely deserved) but there’s a reason why they won by 46 points, and it goes beyond themselves: the Kings were absolutely terrible.
Terrible on the defensive end, terrible on the offensive end at times, zero fight and zero desire at times.
And they knew it.
“You have to take it,” said Kings guard George Hill. “We own up to it. We were awful tonight as a team. As individuals, we were awful. You can’t back down from, we got our butt kicked. We have to take it on the chin.”
“We just need more guys out there as a whole, fighting, competing,” Hill said of the postgame message from the coaching staff. “Forty-six points in the NBA is almost like you’re laying down. You have to compete every possession. Including myself at times, as a leader, I have to take it upon myself to do a little bit better and competing on both ends of the floor. You can’t point anybody out. I think we were all poor offensively and defensively tonight.”
Kings head coach Dave Joerger tried to warn his side about the danger the Hawks posed but they obviously didn’t pay attention.
“Atlanta has been playing hard and hasn’t been rewarded with a win,” said Joerger postgame. “They’ve been in a lot of games.
“We told our guys, ‘You have to be ready to play, because they’ll come at you. They compete. They play hard.’ Losing is one thing. We have to do a much better job of competing. You don’t have to be an ‘a-hole’ to play competitive, get in it, get after it, aggressive basketball – taking hits, giving hits.”
Though the Hawks have obviously lost a lot of games early in this season, they’ve (nearly) always shown fight and character when they’ve lost, and it’s nearly always been competitive in the fourth quarter. There has only been a couple of occasions where the game had gotten out of hand by the fourth quarter.
If you didn’t already, I hope you can appreciate the group Atlanta has, their quality of coaching and their culture, because if you look at the Kings (and, look, no disrespect to the Kings [and disclaimer, I like the Kings a lot] but where they are [3-11 on the season and have been a lottery team for the last 10 years] for a reason) — you might better appreciate the Hawks.
Still, you play the team in front of you no matter what’s going on in their world, and the Hawks ran the Kings out of the building and they deserve a lot of credit for what they did last night — 126 points on 63.3% shooting from the field, 16 made threes on 50% shooting while holding the Kings to season-lows in field goal percentage (35.2) and points (80).
After knocking on the door for so long this season, they deserved this win.
Dewayne Dedmon’s impact
Dewayne Dedmon continues to ball.
Dedmon went off for a first half double-double en route to a career-high 20 points on 9-of-10 shooting from the field and 1-of-1 from three.
Dedmon was extra aggressive to start this game and aggressive in the pick-and-roll — exploiting the Kings’ woeful defense and rim protection.
Do I need to go on?
Though the Kings’ defense was terrible, it was good to see Dedmon aggressively attacking the rim and taking the initiative in the pick-and-roll and in transition — giving his teammates reasons to find rim:
(More great defense here...)
Over his last five games, Dedmon is averaging 15.2 points per game on 75% shooting from the field, 57.1% from three (on 1.4 attempts per game), 9.8 rebounds per game, 1.8 assists per game and a block in 24 minutes per game.
He’s clearly getting more comfortable in the offense and it’s showing — to great effect.
“He brings a lot of personality to our team,” said coach Bud postgame of Dedmon. “From almost the day he got here, he’s got a good voice and he’s good for us. I think he’s getting more and more comfortable, can help the young guys and can help everybody. His personality, his disposition has been good for us from the very beginning.
“He was somebody we were excited about adding, just with his length and how hard how he plays. He fits a lot of things we’re looking for. You do your research, you talk to friends around the league, you talk to people who’ve worked with him, you watch him during warm-ups and all those things…we had a belief, and idea that he could shoot, he could make shots. We’re always pushing that envelope with the three-point line. He’s embraced it. He’s put the work in. He’s pretty comfortable, and we want him to continue to do the same.”
Bud can’t be any happier with what Dedmon has done this season. He’s proving to be a great fit offensively (hitting those outside/mid-range shots as well as being active in the pick-and-roll), playing well defensively, he’s making those extra passes, passes out of the paint to the open shooters (a few more of those last night)...he just looks great in limited minutes.
“He brings the energy,” said Kent Bazemore. “He’s big for us. When he plays well, there’s a good chance that we play well. He was all over the boards for us tonight, controlling the floor. He ran the floor well, did what he does. He’s been working on his three-point shot and it showed tonight. Looking at the stat sheet, he had every statistical category filled up. It’s good to see guys put in the work.”
Dedmon himself seems to be a man of few words.
”I was just trying to come in and be aggressive on the glass. That’s usually my main focus every game. That’s all I was trying to do.”
Dedmon struggled somewhat to begin the season but the numbers and percentages have only increased as the season has gone on: 10.8 points per game on 61.1% shooting from the field, 42.1% from three (!!!), 8.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game.
The Hawks did a great job moving the ball last night and produced a season-high 40 assists on 50 made field goals.
Dennis Schröder and Taurean Prince tallied eight assists (a career-high for Prince) while Dedmon and Marco Belinelli dished five assists apiece... Everyone got involved moving the ball. In fact, of the 11 Hawks who played last night, John Collins and Luke Babbitt (who played just 11 minutes) were the only players not to tally an assist.
Tyler Cavanaugh dished four assists and had a particularly nice assist to Dewayne Dedmon in the second quarter:
Even though we know Cavanaugh (because of his two-way contract) isn’t going to stay with the Hawks for long, the Hawks’ G-League affiliate, the Erie Bayhawks, are going to be well set to run/instil the Hawks’ system with Josh Magette and Cavanaugh at the helm.
Bright days ahead.
Strong three-point shooting continues
When you’re hot, you’re hot. The Hawks continue to light it up from downtown — 16 made threes on 32 attempts.
Taurean Prince, Luke Babbitt and — perhaps most encouragingly/surprisingly — Isaiah Taylor all hit three three-pointers while Dennis Schröder and Malcolm Delaney chipped in with a couple of threes each.
Over their last five games, the Hawks are shooting 45% from three on 30 attempts per game. For the season, the Hawks are shooting 40.1% from three — that ranks second in the league trailing only...the Golden State Warriors.
Coming and going: An Atlanta Hawks power forward story
Just as the Hawks got one power forward back, they lose another.
Ersan Ilyasova returned to action off the bench after a eight game absence with a bruised knee. He struggled — one point on 0-of-4 shooting in just under 18 minutes of action. If there was a game to shake off the rust, it was this game, so that’s good news going forward for Ersan, but I expect Babbitt to continue at that starting PF spot.
Or will he?
Babbitt was limited to 11 minutes and didn’t feature in the second half due to back spasms but, according the Bud, it isn’t anything to be seriously worried about:
Budenholzer on Babbitt: "I don't think it's anything too serious. I think his back is just tight."— Michael Cunningham (@MCunninghamAJC) November 16, 2017
It’s a shame for Babbitt, who was looking down the barrel of 15-20 points after a 13 point first half in 11 minutes. The good news is that the Hawks are off until Saturday, giving Babbitt a bit more time to recover.
I’d be surprised if Babbitt was out for long, if at all, come Saturday.
21 Savage’s half time show
You know what, nah... Never mind... Let’s just move on...
The Hawks (3-12) are back in action on Saturday when they’ll take on the Boston Celtics at Philips Arena.