Dennis Schröder was absent from the proceedings on Friday night but, given the way the Atlanta Hawks performed, his presence would not have prevented a home loss to the Miami Heat. The Hawks provided a lethargic defensive effort throughout and, when coupled with ugly offensive execution, the result was a 108-90 defeat in the team’s first game after the All-Star break.
While the first quarter wasn’t disastrous, it certainly wasn’t an inspiring start. The Hawks shot just 32 percent from the floor in the first 12 minutes and, in general, it was a rather listless effort. Still, Atlanta managed to stay within striking distance, trailing by just one point.
From there, though, the Heat turned it on. Miami used a 10-0 run to open up an eight-point lead midway through the second period and, on cue, Mike Budenholzer picked up a technical foul. Later, the Heat scored seven straight points to increase the margin to 17. While Kent Bazemore bailed Atlanta out with a 35-foot bank shot as the halftime buzzer sounded, the Hawks headed to the locker room in a 63-49 hole that was much of their own creation.
Prior to halftime, Paul Millsap was tremendous, scoring 19 points on 5 of 8 shooting. Elsewhere, the Hawks struggled mightily on both ends, shooting 39 percent from the floor and allowing 123.2 points per 100 possessions on the defensive end. That combination was an ugly one and it left Atlanta with a (very) tough task in the final two quarters.
While the Bazemore three might have provided theoretical “momentum”, it did not sustain. In fact, the Heat extended their advantage with a 12-2 run to take a 20-point lead and, minutes later, that margin sat at 25 (!) points with 2:36 remaining in the third quarter.
From there, it was an exercise in waiting for the final buzzer. The Hawks briefly slashed the lead to fewer than 20 points, but that was short-lived and the end of the bench was emptied in short order. Ersan Ilyasova scored his first points in a Hawks uniform, DeAndre Bembry, Kris Humphries and Lamar Patterson appeared and the visitors cruised to an 18-point win.
Paul Millsap served as the lone bright spot for Atlanta, scoring an efficient 21 points over 28 minutes of play. Aside from that, it was a lackluster effort across the board, especially on the defensive end. Even with extended garbage time, the Heat scored at a clip of 112.4 points per 100 possessions and the absence of Schröder does not go very far in explaining that lack of resistance.
The Hawks will return to action on the second night of a back-to-back in Orlando on Saturday. Stay tuned.