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Third quarter slide dooms Hawks in 103-91 loss to Grizzlies

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Everything was (generally) fine... until the third quarter.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Atlanta Hawks Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks enjoyed two days off and the Memphis Grizzlies entered Thursday evening’s contest on the second night of a back-to-back. On the floor, though, none of that was evident, as the home team struggled in the third quarter on the way to a 103-91 defeat.

While the first half was not a repeat of what transpired in Memphis, it was a decent showing for the home team. Offensively, the Hawks performed well in the first quarter, shooting 58 percent and knocking down 5 of 9 from beyond the arc. The defensive end, though, was more of an adventure, including a listless effort from Dwight Howard in allowing Marc Gasol (who finished with a quiet triple-double) to convert four (open) jump shots within the first few minutes.

The defense did stabilize to some degree and the Hawks built a 40-34 lead early in the second quarter on the back of a 7-0 run. Unfortunately, Memphis answered with seven straight points of their own to retake the advantage and, from there, it was a back and forth game into the halftime break.

The Grizzlies entered halftime with a 55-52 lead based largely on the offensive end. Atlanta allowed Memphis to score at a clip of more than 115 points per 100 possessions (which is quite bad), but the Hawks did battle offensively, making 50 percent of their shots and committing only four turnovers.

After the break, things went sideways with haste. The Grizzlies opened with five straight points and that blitz turned into a 13-4 run that gave the visitors a 68-56 lead. From there, the onslaught continued to the point where Memphis led 78-60 before the Hawks (finally) scored the last five points of the quarter to finish with a 13-point deficit. Before that late push, the Hawks scored only eight points over a 10-plus minute span and it was a hideous showing on the offensive end.

There were brief signs of life in the fourth quarter, including a 7-0 run that slashed the deficit to 88-78 with 6:28 remaining. The entire run came with Dennis Schröder off the floor (and he never returned) but the offense lost steam eventually and the Hawks were never able to cut the lead to single-digits before surrendering to the final 12-point margin.

The Hawks will be back in action on Saturday with another home game, as the Portland Trail Blazers invade Philips Arena. Stay tuned.