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Bazemore’s game-winner lifts Hawks over Pelicans

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He didn’t Baze-less when it came to that game-winner...

New Orleans Pelicans v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks overcame a 19 point deficit to walk away with a 94-93 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night at (a quite empty) Philips Arena.

For the Hawks, they were led by Kent Bazemore’s 20 points — including the game-winner — while Ersan Ilyasova added 18 points. Dennis Schröder added a double-double of 13 points on tough shooting (4-of-16) but dished out a career-high 15 assists with no turnovers.

For the Pelicans, they were led by Jrue Holiday’s 22 points while DeMarcus Cousins added 19 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists.

Bazemore’s game-winner wins it for the Hawks

After seemingly losing the momentum in the fourth quarter — having held a six point lead — the Hawks still trailed the Pelicans by three points with just over a minute left.

Ersan Ilyasova hits a huge three-pointer to tie the game with 1:11 remaining, one of the biggest shots of the game:

Nice screen by John Collins here — who actually got to play some very valuable crunch time minutes in this game — to free up Ilyasova.

Both teams would miss their next opportunity and DeMarcus Cousins would split a pair of free throws to put the Pels up 93-92 after Collins was (correctly) deemed to have blocked Cousins.

Enter Kent Bazemore...

After Dennis got the switch he probably wanted on Cunningham, he picked up his dribble and passed it off to Baze, who was guarded by Anthony Davis... There are better guys to have switched onto you. Despite that, Baze dribbles left-to-right, rises and buries the jumper over Davis:

That’s just a great shot. Feels like nine times out of 10 that shot — in that situation with a guy like Davis switched onto you — doesn’t go in but it was money this time around.

Postgame, Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer revealed that that shot was not one of the looks they planned/drew up out of the timeout.

“It was kind just of a scramble situation,” said Bud postgame. “We didn’t get to either of the looks we wanted. There was a switch, the actions created a switch. I don’t know if Anthony Davis in a switch is really what you’re looking for but Baze hit a hell of a shot. That’s what it takes in our league sometimes, you got to be a little bit lucky.”

“Not a lot of time left,” said Baze of the shot. “Just try to get to one of your moves you practice a lot. That’s one of my favorite moves. I was able to get it off against Anthony Davis and it went in.”

Last possession, Pels down one coming out of the timeout. The first inbound pass is deflected, leaving just a second left for NOLA to score. They get the ball into Cousins, whose hook doesn’t go and the Hawks hang on to win:

There was an awful lot of contact between Ilyasova and Cousins, can’t help but feel the Hawks may have got away with that one. Cousins was furious with the no-call.

But the Hawks won’t care. A 19 point comeback capped with a W, the spirit of this group continues to be one of their greatest strengths.

“For the players to keep grinding, stay competitive, stay active, after a first half where New Orleans was lights out – they shot it really well,” said Bud postgame. “We did not shoot it well at all in the first half. They just stuck with it. They kept getting more and more active, more and more aggressive. I think we started shooting the ball better, executing better in the second half. Obviously a 10-point defensive quarter in the third quarter just changed the game. Then it’s a tight game. We had to execute down the stretch and win a close game. Kent Bazemore hit a huge shot and several layups. Ersan with a big three. Just a lot of guys played well: Dennis with 15 assists, that’s a great point guard night for him, John Collins playing down the stretch of a close game, great learning opportunity for him against Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. A lot of positives from tonight that we can build on going forward.”

Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry was left surprised at how the game got away from his side in the second half and how they eventually lost.

“Yeah. It surprised me because I thought we played well,” said Gentry. “We put ourselves in a position, especially on the road, to win a game. We just couldn’t make a shot, and didn’t do a very good job defensively of slowing them down. They also started to make some three’s. We gave them a couple open three’s in the first half, but too many in the third and fourth quarter.”

New Orleans lost this game on a great game-winning shot by Kent Bazemore, but they’ll look back on one particular period of this game and pinpoint that as the reason they lost this game...

Third quarter turnaround

Things were looking pretty dire at the end of the first half for the Hawks: down 15 and one run away from this game getting out of hand. But the Pelicans struggled to score and the Hawks managed to claw their way back, eventually outscoring the Pels 26-10 in the third quarter to take a one point into the fourth quarter.

The Pelicans — on the third game of their road trip and the second night of a back-to-back, having gone to OT against Boston the night before — seemed to slow down offensively and they looked lethargic at times as they got into their sets and the Hawks were also able to get the defensive stops they needed and brought themselves all the way back into this game.

“We obviously have to get it together,” said John Collins when asked about the conversation at half time. “Coach came in here and said he’s liking the way we’re shooting the ball, the shots we’re getting offensively. So if we could just take a little more intensity on the defensive end and try to keep the same energy on the offensive end and shots will start falling. And they did.”

The Hawks shot 55% (11-of-20) in the third quarter while the Pelicans shot just 16.8% (3-of-18).

Alvin Gentry said his side’s ball movement was as good in the third quarter as it had been up to that point and that his side didn’t start the third quarter with the energy he would’ve wanted.

“I didn’t think we had the energy to start the third quarter that we had played with in the first half,” said Gentry of the third quarter. “We started to slow down, started to hold the ball some. The ball movement that we had in the first half wasn’t there. Then we had trouble scoring. I thought they did a much better job defensively in the third quarter. That got them back in the game. We didn’t have enough plays at the end to finish the game.”

The Pelicans had just two assists in the third quarter after they dished 17 in the first half while the Hawks had 10 third quarter assists, eventually finishing with 32 assists.

Baze hit a great game-winner but both teams will look at the third quarter as the changing point for this game.

Limiting Anthony Davis

In the first meeting with the Pelicans in New Orleans, the Hawks implemented a defensive strategy that would limit Anthony Davis to just 13 points, which was a season-low in a game where he actually played more than five minutes...

Last night, Davis was held to just eight points on 2-of-8 shooting having just scored 45 points in Boston and 48 points at MSG.

How did the Hawks do this? Well firstly, it’s not luck because now it has happened twice in the season. What the Hawks do is they send multiple guys at Davis and he is either forced to give the ball up or he takes a tough shot, and that’s what happened.

Example: the double on the catch and the harassment:

“We threw the kitchen sink at him,” said Bud on how the Hawks handled AD. “Everybody was attacking him, everybody was being aggressive trying to limit his shots. Just trying to make him uncomfortable all night. There’s a bit of a scheduling thing too. New Orleans is on a back-to-back, they had an overtime game last night, they had an overtime game on Sunday against the Knicks. No doubt this was not their ideal circumstances to come in here and play a game . . . you have to throw everything at him, the kitchen sink.”

On top of that, Davis didn’t look to be assertive, didn’t really look for his own shot a lot and the shots he did take, some of them were tough and the others he just missed.

“We did it by committee,” said Kent Bazemore. “Obviously our big guys did a great job of keeping him in front and we showed him a crowd all night. We made it tough. They have a very impressive win last night up in Boston on the road. So you have to take advantage of that. They played OT and they might’ve gotten in a little late and then with the snow. So many factors, we just took advantage of it.”

Limiting AD meant that some other players — just like in New Orleans — got a few more looks and did a bit more scoring than normal. Jrue Holiday scored 22 points — 19 of them coming in the first half — and Darius Miller scored 17 points. But unlike the last meeting between the two, E’Twuan Moore did not go off, scoring just 12 points this time...

A great defensive effort on AD, to hold a player like that to eight points — and 13 the meeting before — is legitimate.

Second chance scoring

Just the Spurs game, the Hawks made sure to take advantage of their second opportunities.

The Hawks outscored the Pelicans 20-8 in second chance scoring while grabbing 12 offensive rebounds, which is a fairly small number to score 20 points off of. You’d be doing well at times to score 20 second chance points off of 17 offensive rebounds.

Miles Plumlee grabbed four offensive rebounds but didn’t score any second chance points himself...

There’s not much to say here, just one of the game-stats that really went in the Hawks’ direction that helped in securing this W.


The Hawks (13-31) continue their homestand on Saturday when they take on the Chicago Bulls at Philips Arena, with Atlanta looking for a season-best third straight win.

Should be interesting. Stay tuned.