Coming up against a hot Brooklyn Nets team riding a four-game winning streak, the Atlanta Hawks had their work cut out for them on the final game of a short road trip on Sunday afternoon. Atlanta continued their customary awful play in the first quarter and while they were able to climb back within two points in the second, they were never able to get closer than that on their way to another defeat, their 23rd on the season.
Today’s game began with yet another slow start which is beginning to become somewhat of a bad habit for the young Hawks. Brooklyn, on the other hand, was not having any trouble at all scoring as they torched Atlanta from all over the floor.
Most notably, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson went on a tear of his own en route to helping the Nets jump out to a 20-point lead in the first. Jeremy Lin entered the game late in the first period and was applauded after he suffered a season-ending knee injury while playing for these Nets just a season ago. The Hawks, as mentioned before, apparently weren’t notified of the start time as they took a 42-23 deficit into the second quarter.
For what the Hawks lacked in energy during the opening period, they more than made up for in the early going of the second as they popped off a quick 8-0 run to get back within 13. The Nets countered with some veteran experience in the form of Jared Dudley who was able to calm his team down and weather Atlanta’s best shot.
Dewayne Dedmon was especially impressive for the Hawks in the second after getting off to a slow start this season. The second quarter seemed like a breath of fresh air for the Hawks but they still took a 72-66 deficit into the break.
The third period began with a battle between John Collins and D’Angelo Russell, who traded buckets back and forth over the opening minutes. Collins, who has been a godsend of late for the Hawks, continued his scoring rampage as he mounted towards the 30-point mark yet again.
However, The Nets were taking every punch the Hawks could throw and steadily responded with bucket after bucket. Neither team played a significant amount of defense in the third quarter, which finished 39-30 for the Nets. Brooklyn’s 111-96 lead at the end of the period read more like a final score than a third-quarter score. Both teams shot extremely well in that third quarter, with the Hawks going 11-for-21 from the field and 6-for-6 from the line, while Brooklyn shot 12-for-18 from the field and 12-for-13 at the charity stripe. 111 points is a franchise record through three quarters for the hometown Nets.
In the fourth, it was more of the same for both sides, as the defenses must have been left at home for this matinee contest. Brooklyn opened the fourth on an extended 18-10 run through the first five minutes to really put the game out of reach for Atlanta. The Hawks went for some desperation defensive strategies to get back into the game but Brooklyn wasn’t put in any difficulty on their way to a victory by a gargantuan final score of 144-127.
As you can tell from the final score, offense was not the problem for either team in this one. Four Hawks scored in double figures, with all three of Collins, Kent Bazemore, and Dewayne Dedmon scoring more than 20. Dedmon rediscovered the three-point stroke in this one, finishing 5-for-5 from the great beyond. Coming into the game, he’d made just 24.5 percent of his three-pointers on slightly increased volume over last season on a per-possession basis. His 24 points represent a new career high after scoring 20 twice last season.
Daniel Hamilton earned some time in the rotation in this game, acquitting himself well enough in his 14 minutes. He played in both halves as the second wing off the bench alongside DeAndre’ Bembry and won’t blow anybody away with his box score numbers but did his job against the Nets’ larger guards.
For the most part, Hamilton’s minutes lined up with Spencer Dinwiddie and held the freshly-extended Brooklyn guard to 3-of-8 shooting from the field, though Dinwiddie was able to get to the line for eight free throw attempts. Playing Hamilton ahead of Tyler Dorsey may have been a defensive move for Lloyd Pierce, who possibly thought that Hamilton’s defensive prowess would line up better against Dinwiddie. While Hamilton did a fine job, it’s not like the Hawks were really all that effective on that end of the floor no matter what they did.
Atlanta comes home for a single game against the Washington Wizards on Tuesday, then fly right back up to New York to take on the Knicks on Friday. Surely, Pierce will be hoping for better performances in those games, especially on the defensive end of the floor.