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Big second half run leads Hawks to lopsided win over Jazz

First half was rough but the second half helped make up for it.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Atlanta Hawks Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks bounced back from their blowout loss against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday with a blowout victory over the Utah Jazz on Monday night at Philips Arena 104-90.

The score wasn’t really a fair reflection of where this game went and how much distance the Hawks put between in themselves and the Jazz (leading by as many as 26 points).

The Hawks were led by Dennis Schröder’s 20 points (doing a great job taking advantage of the lack of rim protection while Rudy Gobert sat on the bench) while Taurean Prince added 17 points.

For the Jazz — without Rodney Hood in this game, which definitely played its part offensively — they were led Alec Burks’ 17 points while Donovan Mitchell added 13 points.

Tanking watch...

This will probably open a can of unwanted worms, but there are people interested in this sort of thing (and for good reason, we all know what’s going on here this season...).

With this win and the Sacramento Kings’ loss to Charlotte last night, the Hawks are no longer in possession of the worst record in the league — the Kings are now 13-34 while the Hawks are 14-32.

Plenty of season remaining, of course... So let’s not get carried away with this.

Run of dreams caps off strong second half as Hawks cruise to victory

This was shaping up to be a close game as the third quarter entered the closing stages but the Hawks managed to put together a nice little run to finish the quarter up by 11 points.

But as the fourth quarter began, the run just kept going.

18-3, 21-3 and, finally, 25-3 — a 25-3 run spread across the two quarters just blew this game completely apart for the Jazz as nothing worked for them.

“The end of the third quarter, and the beginning of the fourth quarter, we got really disconnected,” said Jazz head coach Quin Snyder postgame. “The defense was keeping us in the game early when we had a hard time scoring. That went south quickly. We had to attack the rim. We struggled to attack the rim. They did a good job guarding the three-point line, so we didn’t get clean looks. Then we just lost focus. I thought our effort defensively – Dennis (Schröder) was really good going by us – but we allowed a lot of stuff and didn’t help...”

It was wild how out of hand this game got and good to see the Hawks really turn the screw for once and enjoy a more than convincing win at home after a rough loss on Saturday. They just had fun out there and came up with some highlight plays such as:


Postgame, Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer spoke about his side’s improved second half, crediting the Jazz for forcing them to up their intensity and aggressiveness and generally improved play from his side in the second half.

“The second half, the way we competed to match the aggressiveness, to match the physicality…defensively they have a philosophy to get into you and make everything hard. If you’re on your heels at all, you’re going to have a long night in mud. It felt like in the second half, we were able to cut harder, screen harder, move better, including moving the ball. The first half was just, credit to them. We had to learn in the first half and get better. All up and down the roster, everybody was better. I thought our competitive spirit was better in the second half. It’s a good win for us.”

Up until the point of garbage time (around 4:27 remaining in the fourth quarter when a the rest of the starters came out of the game. Plus, with the Jazz hitting some shots in garbage time, they shot 47% in the second half, which doesn’t reflect their half very well) the Hawks outscored the Jazz 53-32 (32 points being the same number of points the Hawks totalled in the third quarter alone) while shooting just under 53% from the field, and 50% from three while the Jazz shot 40% from the field and 16% from three.

Taurean Prince summed up the difference in the second half using a lot less fewer words.

“More fired up I think. We were more focused coming into the third quarter.”

Bang on, and a good win for the Hawks here behind that strong second half — very convincing in the end and you can’t say they weren’t worth this win. It’s also their fourth in their last six games and their fourth straight win against a Western Conference opponent.

The return of Taurean Prince

It’s been a tough homestand for Taurean Prince, averaging 4.3 points on 29% shooting from the field and 13% from three in 27 minutes per game.

It didn’t look great for TP to begin this game as he exited the game with two quick fouls in the first quarter and you thought ‘Aw no, here we go again.’ Even by the end of the first half it didn’t look fantastic: just three points in just under nine minutes.

And then, boom, the third quarter arrives where Prince looked like his old self: 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting in the third quarter, including two quick three-pointers and this tough layup in transition:

Prince finished with 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting and 2-of-4 from three.

“I just stayed right mentally, continued to do what I do,” said Prince postgame. “Keep getting up my shots. Keep listening to coach. Just doing everything I’m doing. There’s no reason for me to switch it up just because I had a couple bad shooting games. I’m back now though.”

He just looked like Taurean Prince again, and that’s what everyone has wanted to see, including his coach who liked what Prince brought last night, especially defensively.

“He got the two quick early fouls and you wondered if it was just going to be- he’s needs to catch a break, needs to catch something to go his way,” said coach Bud postgame. “He just pulled himself out of it and willed himself to a great game and didn’t let it sidetrack him. I thought he was locked in defensively, thought he did a lot of good things defensively. When he plays like that it’s huge.”

“...I thought the way he drove the ball, the way he attacked the basket, that’s more impressive,” Bud would go on to say. “We just want him to keep shooting when he’s open and lock in defensively.”

Hopefully TP can chain some good performances together now and he’ll have the first opportunity to do that on Wednesday night against the Toronto Raptors, against whom he scored a career-high 30 points last time out.

Limiting Donovan Mitchell

With Rodney Hood out with a leg contusion in this game, Donovan Mitchell’s offense was even more important for the Jazz but he struggled to make the impact he has become known for this season. Mitchell shot 5-of-13 from the field for 13 points and committed six turnovers and he clearly drew the attention of the Hawks in their preparation for this game.

Plays like this typified Mitchell’s game — just bodies all around him making it tough to either get shots off or find teammates:

Team defense was the name of the game postgame with everyone doing their part.

“He’s a good player,” said Kent Bazemore postgame. “He’s young. I just tried to match his energy. He plays really hard. Coach Quin (Synder) has a well-oiled machine over there as far as offensive schemes, so he presented a good challenge. I had four guys behind me all night helping out, so that made it a little bit easier on me.”

“Just team defense all around,” Taurean Prince added. “We put Baze on him and I think he did a great job individually. Some things they set up to get him going downhill, I think our bigs did a good job of contesting. Other people just did a good job of getting their hands on balls and turning defense into offense.”

And by other people, Prince — not intentionally — means himself because that’s exactly what he did: got his hand on balls and turned defense into offense. Hey, it’s time to reuse a clip we’ve already seen!

For Mitchell, it’s a tough ask for a rookie to also be your go-to scorer and it’s all a learning process.

“I had a few turnovers, just because I wasn’t taking my time,” said Mitchell. “I was trying to make the same reads I always do. Some games, I’m still learning. There’s certain things I’m still trying to learn. Just being able to make those reads. The games where I make mistakes … I made six of them tonight. But I just have to bounce back from that.”

There’s no doubt that this kid has a bright future but it was a tough night for him in Atlanta last night.

Malcolm Delaney’s strong night

Malcolm Delaney’s strong play continued last night as he finished with seven points, a game and season-high eight assists (six of them coming in the first half and a game-high plus/minus rating of plus-25 in 23 minutes.

Delaney’s performance drew a lot of praise postgame, not least from coach Bud.

“...Malcolm ... his IQ and his steadiness and toughness are showing through here recently...”

When talking about the bench effort, Malcolm Delaney was the first name Kent Bazemore mentioned.

“...We had some guys come off the bench – Malcolm Delaney was huge for us tonight...”

Delaney not only made plays for others but also for himself as he came up with this four-point play in the third quarter:

After seeing him struggle somewhat often in his one-and-a-bit seasons so far with the Hawks, it’s fantastic to see Delaney play to the level that some expected him to coming off of that fantastic EuroLeague season the year before — arguably his best stretch as an NBA player.

The Hawks (14-32) wrap up their six-game homestand on Wednesday as the Toronto Raptors come to town, something Kent Bazemore is looking forward to after this victory.

“...This feels good. Toronto’s coming in here on Wednesday. They beat us pretty handily the first two times, so we look forward to that.”

Look forward to that indeed...