The Atlanta Hawks were back in action Friday night for a quick one game road trip to Memphis, Tennessee to face off against the scuffling Grizzlies. The Hawks are looking to capitalize against a team that has lost 16 of its last 17 games.
Atlanta’s inactives for Friday’s game once again included Dewayne Dedmon who has been sidelined with a stress reaction in his left tibia and could be out possibly another week. Also on the injury report was the rookie John Collins who is suffering from a sprained left AC Joint but he saw time in tonight’s game after a quick recovery from his return on Thursday. Finally, Mike Muscala has not been practicing of late after continuing his recovery from an ankle injury, but should be cleared to resume practice soon.
In the opening period, the Hawks got the offense going quickly with Ersan Ilyasova hitting a three pointer to open the action continuing his good play of late. The story of the first quarter for the Hawks was Kent Bazemore who’s hot shooting continued in this game early on with a 7-point first quarter. The Hawks played some good defense but couldn’t get too much rolling on the offensive end and took a 21-17 lead into the second quarter.
The second quarter began with a quick burst by Memphis on the offensive end countered by the Hawks with a few three pointers from Taurean Prince and Marco Belinelli. Although Memphis was aggressive and got to the free throw line a few times, they were getting over-aggressive, causing silly offensive fouls and turnovers that the Hawks were able to capitalize on. The Hawks won the quarter 26-23 and carried an overall lead into the locker room at 47-40.
The Grizzlies came out of halftime with a new sense of purpose and quickly posted back to back three pointers from Marc Gasol. The Hawks responded with Kent Bazemore getting a few open looks of his own and quickly got the lead back in Atlanta’s favor.
Taurean Prince got in on the action midway through the quarter with back to back threes in opposite corners of the floor but from that point on Memphis really got rolling offensively getting Marc Gasol and Andrew Harrison involved. The Grizzlies put up a 32-point quarter, but the Hawks were able to take a 1-point advantage into the final quarter, 73-72.
In the fourth quarter, the Hawks and Grizzlies opened with back to back turnovers with both teams’ offense being hard to watch. Both teams continued to grind with Kent Bazemore continuing to make a huge impact on both ends for the Hawks.
Taurean Prince, who was on fire from three-point range all night long, hit his fifth three pointer with a little under seven minutes remaining in the fourth to put the Hawks up six. Memphis would fight back with some tough shots from Tyreke Evans midway through the fourth to draw back within four points with just over 4:30 remaining. Memphis went on another short run to get the game tied at 91 after a Mario Chalmers three pointer and driving layup with just over three minutes remaining.
From there, Chalmers continued his great play down the stretch with another huge three in the final two minutes to get the game tied once again and had an assist on a Tyreke Evans layup that gave the Grizzlies the lead with under a minute remaining. The score held in Memphis’ favor 96-94 giving the Hawks a chance to tie or win after a timeout with 10 seconds remaining and Ersan Ilyasova had a look for three but seemed to get fouled without a call and Memphis went on to take the two-point win.
For the Hawks, Friday evening was a team effort on both ends of the floor. Taurean Prince finished with 17 points, Dennis Schroder with 18 points, 11 assists, 5 rebounds and two steals, with Kent Bazemore tallying 19 points and five assists. Also in the mix was the veteran Marco Belinelli who ended with 14 points off the bench. John Collins continued to look great in limited minutes coming off his injury and had a stat stuffer night with two points, four assists, seven rebounds, four blocks and a steal.
Atlanta will now enjoy a weekend off before returning to action at home on Monday. Stay tuned.