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Hawks fall flat in home loss to Grizzlies

One step forward and then two back.

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

Coming off of a couple of rest days, the Atlanta Hawks entered Thursday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies looking to keep the pressure on the rest of the Eastern Conference. However, a lackluster performance over the second and third quarters ultimately sent the Hawks home with a 103-91 loss.

“Not a pretty game for us. It didn’t feel like we could get anything done, particularly ending the second quarter and going into the third quarter,” Mike Budenholzer told reporters after the game. “You have to give Memphis credit. They’re playing well. I think they’ve won three-in-a-row now. They’ve kind of flipped it. Gasol was great for them. Collectively, we have to play better. Individually, we have to play better. We’ll work on it tomorrow and get ready for Saturday.”

Marc Gasol was stellar recording his second triple-double of the season with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

“He was just picking everybody apart on our defense,” Tim Hardaway Jr said when asked about Gasol’s performance. “We can’t allow that. He got going in the first quarter and just kept on going from there, no matter who was guarding him. We just have to be better as a group and look out for one another out there on the court.”

Despite Gasol’s heroics, Atlanta remained in the game but came out flat after halftime as Memphis outscored them 23-13 in the third quarter. The Hawks were just 3-for-17 from the field in the third and turned the ball over four times.

“You always have to give Memphis credit for their defense,” Budenholzer said of the third quarter. “It just felt like one of those nights. We couldn’t catch the ball. We couldn’t shoot it. We couldn’t pass it. We just had an off night, with a lot of credit to Memphis for their defense. They were into us. They were physical. They got more 50-50 balls than we did. It wasn’t our night.”

Atlanta defeated Memphis 107-90 this past Saturday in the second game of a back-to-back without Dwight Howard who they elected to rest. So what was the difference on Thursday?

“They were just being more aggressive,” Paul Millsap said when asked about the difference in Thursday’s performance and Saturday’s game. “Taking us out of our offense in the second half. I think our defense was pretty good. Offensively we could’ve been a lot better.”

“Not surprised at all. We knew they were going to come out with that mentality,” Hardaway added on Memphis’ bounce back performance. “They were dogs on both ends of the floor. We just backed down as a team, as a hole. We didn’t block out. We didn’t make our shots. A lot of the shots we took were in and out. We didn’t force them into tough baskets at all. Not the Hawks way. We have to do a better job, watch film tomorrow and get better, and concentrate on Saturday’s game.

Atlanta shot 41 percent from the field and committed 18 turnovers in the game. They were just 8 of 27 from three-point range. Memphis knocked down 10 of 28 three-point attempts.

Hardaway led Atlanta with 18 points off the bench but was just 6 of 14 from the floor. Dennis Schroder had put together a streak of good performances but struggled in this one finishing with 10 points on 4 of 16 shooting.

“Dennis has been so good for us this year. He’s been our engine,” Budenholzer answered when asked about Schröder’s performance. “It’s a credit to him how great he’s been. Tonight, he wasn’t any different than our whole group. We were just trying to search for a group that could give us a spark.”

With the loss, Atlanta drops to 37-31 on the season and are two full games behind the Toronto Raptors who are fourth in the Eastern Conference Standings. Atlanta leads Indiana by two games and are 3.5 ahead of seventh place Milwaukee.

They will host Portland on Saturday at Philips Arena before heading out on a three-game road trip that will take them to Charlotte, Washington and Milwaukee beginning on Monday.