The Atlanta Hawks began their final long road trip of the season in Utah on Tuesday in a matchup against old friend Quin Snyder and the Jazz. Utah has been one of the hottest teams in basketball over the last 25 games and the injury depleted Hawks knew they had a long night ahead of them.
The aforementioned injuries for the Hawks include a laundry list of players starting with Kent Bazemore who has now been ruled out for the remainder of the season. Also out for the Hawks was John Collins who turned his left ankle in the Hawks last game against the Bucks while shooting a corner three. Antonius Cleveland, who recently inked a multi-season contract with Atlanta also remains out rehabbing his ankle from surgery he had before the season. Malcolm Delaney and Jaylen Morris were also out with ankle sprains and the remainder of both guys seasons is in doubt. Finally to top it all off DeAndre’ Bembry continues to be out with an abdominal strain that has kept him out for awhile now.
The team recalled Andrew White III from Erie before action tonight to help plug the holes that all the injured players have opened.
Jinglin’ Joe Ingles opened the scoring for the night with an early layup and, after some terrible shot selection on two jumpers from the Hawks, Dewayne Dedmon was able to get Atlanta on the board with an alley-oop dunk. There were a bunch of erratic drives from both teams as both the Jazz and Hawks tried to get their offenses going with paint points. Interestingly enough it was Ricky Rubio knocking down consecutive three pointers that got Utah flowing on the offensive end.
On the defensive end, the Jazz were nails and the Hawks could not do anything comfortably. Dennis Schroder was able to beat his matchup with some quick straight line drives to the bucket and was largely the reason Atlanta was able to remain close early on. The Jazz were simply too good with Rudy Gobert owning the paint and took a 27-21 lead into the second quarter.
Miles Plumlee saw his first action in awhile for the Hawks to open the second quarter and proceeded to knock down the first shot with a banked-in midrange jumper. The Utah offense apparently left the building between quarters as the team’s flow just cratered on that end of the floor. It was not like the Hawks offense was much better with Schroder continuing to handle a majority of the scoring. The two teams battled to a quarter that totaled 35 points combined and the Jazz carried a very narrow 42-41 lead into the break.
Ricky Rubio apparently became possessed by the ghost of John Stockton before the game tonight as Rubio was knocking down long range jump shots with ease all night long. Rubio continued this great shooting in the third quarter with back to back hits from midrange that had Utah back on track after their offensive woes in the second quarter.
For the Hawks in the third, it was literally all Dennis Schroder and Dewayne Dedmon. No really, for the first nine minutes of the quarter, Schroder and Dedmon were the only Hawks to score.
Like clockwork, the Jazz hit an offensive lull in the latter part of the quarter and that is when the Hawks were able to somewhat get back in the game. Tyler Dorsey and Andrew White had a three point party with back to back shots from distance assisting one another on both shots.
Both teams scrapped out the final two minutes of the third with Utah and Atlanta exchanging some messy play particularly in the final minute including back to back offensive fouls. Utah was able to get a big shot from rookie phenom Donovan Mitchell at the end of the quarter to carry some slight breathing room into the final quarter up 67-63.
Tyler Dorsey got involved to open the fourth quarter for Atlanta with a huge three pointer in transition. It was Dennis Schroder’s night though as no one in the building could manage to stay in front of the speedy German. Joe Ingles had a really nice stretch for the Jazz where he basically ran the offense himself getting an assist to Rudy Gobert and faking his dribble into a layup helping Utah to maintain their lead.
Taurean Prince finally appeared around the six minute mark of the fourth with an and-one drawn on Rudy Gobert after having a rare quiet night. Schroder and Dedmon continued their monster nights for the Hawks as Dennis poured in a three pointer to tie the game and Dedmon set his new career high for rebounds in a single game with his 15th late in the fourth. Schroder set his new career high around the three minute mark of the quarter and was cruising before getting tabbed with a flagrant one on Ricky Rubio that cost Atlanta the lead.
The final two minutes were quite the adventure as Damion Lee (on a 10-day contract) became the Hawks go-to scorer. After he got fouled and knocked down 1 of 2 free throws to tie the game, the Hawks came back with a pick and roll to Dewayne Dedmon who could not finish.
Donovan Mitchell was then called for an offensive foul coming the other way with the game still tied. Dennis Schroder hit the 40-point mark with just under 40 seconds remaining to take a two point lead in the final seconds. For reference, the 40 point game is the first in the regular season for Atlanta since Joe Johnson in 2009.
The Jazz, out of the timeout, had multiple shots with Mitchell and Ingles both missing open chances. Dennis Schroder was fouled and went 1 for 2 at the line to give him 41 points on the night and giving the ball back to the Jazz with a chance to tie the game. Donovan Mitchell was fouled on the drive and hit both free throws to pull within one at the 16 second mark.
Taurean Prince was the recipient of the inbounds pass and was fouled right away. Prince hit both shots at the line and Utah was forced to use their final timeout to try to draw up a three pointer to tie with 11 seconds left. Joe Ingles was called upon to try the pivotal three pointer and quite frankly couldn’t buy one on the night. Prince rebounded and was fouled and the Hawks wrapped things up with a bow on a ridiculous night from Schroder.
In this crazy game, two Hawks in particular were outstanding. Dennis Schroder dropped a career-high 41 points to go along with 7 assists. Dewayne Dedmon was great as well with 15 points and a career-high 15 rebounds.
Atlanta’s next game is against the Sacramento Kings who are right there with the Hawks at the bottom of the NBA standings. Stay tuned.