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Former Hawks shine as Atlanta drops season finale

Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli returned to cause trouble with their new squad...

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Atlanta Hawks Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks dropped their final game of the season as they fell short to the Philadelphia 76ers — who have now won a franchise record 15 games in a row — 121-113 at Philips Arena on Tuesday night.

Taurean Prince led the Hawks’ scoring effort with 27 points while Tyler Dorsey added 17 points off of the bench, including four three-pointers.

J.J. Redick hit six three-pointers and scored 28 points while Ersan Ilyasova added 26 points off of the bench.

Ilyasova and Belinelli return to hurt Hawks

We won’t spend too much on the game itself because it obviously doesn’t matter at this point at the end of the season (again, if you want to know how the game unfolded the game recap here on Peachtree Hoops will keep you covered), but two former Hawks who began the season in Atlanta ended it in Atlanta with strong games for their new team, helping the Sixers top the Hawks on this final night for the Hawks this season.

Ersan Ilyasova scored 26 points on 8-of-16 from the field, 4-of-8 from three and eight rebounds. Ilyasova’s ability to stretch the floor gave the Hawks issues as the Sixers moved the ball around to find him in the spots he can do the most damage, and everyone knows that Ilyasova’s a quality three-point shooter:

And with Ilyasova’s ability to stretch the floor, it opens up other opportunities for him to step inside and take the mid-range shot as guys fly by him:

And also on this possession as John Collins runs him off of the three-point line, Ilyasova drives inside and finishes at the rim:

Ilyasova also mixed it up on the glass, sticking back this offensive rebound for the score:

The other former Hawk, Marco Belinelli, also had a strong night as he scored 20 points and hit five three-pointers.

Belinelli is known for taking some, shall we say, questionable shots, and he had quite a number of those classic Marco shots last night but some of them actually went in:

Unlike Ilyasova, there’s not a whole lot else to Belinelli’s offensive game outside of three-point shooting (not that he showed in this game, anyways) but he was still effective out there nevertheless, particularly in the third quarter.

Sixers head coach Brett Brown praised his veterans postgame in what he knew was going to be a fight against this Hawks team and mentioned the veteran play of Ilyasova and Belinelli specifically.

“We needed all of that (from our veterans). We were in a fight,” said Brown postgame. “We knew that Atlanta, especially with the last two wins, they weren’t going to go away easily. It was their last game, and it happened to be here at home. I thought that our veterans just found a way to make some baskets and get stops. We executed a few things down the stretch like we hoped to. But that veteran presence, led by Marco (Belinelli) and Ersan (Ilyasova) – I thought both of those guys had big games.”

Of course, with 46 points between them, it goes without saying that the performances of Ilyasova and Belinelli off of the bench really bolstered that bench production as the Sixers’ bench outscored the Hawks’ 58-45.

Two strong performances from the two former Hawks as they chase playoff success with the Sixers, who continue to push for seeding at this late stage — the third seed is now theirs to lose. Best of luck to Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli in the playoffs.

Taurean Prince’s three-point shooting

Taurean Prince had an...interesting night on the final night of the Hawks’ season.

Yes, he scored 27 points but took 25 shots to get there (making nine of them) and a he also took whopping 18 three-point attempts (making six of them).

No, that’s not a misprint... 18 three-point attempts. Eighteen.

According to the Hawks’ TV broadcast on Fox Sports Southeast, that is a new franchise record for three-point attempts in a game, eclipsing the previous high held by Mookie Blaylock, who once attempted 16 threes in a game.

As you can imagine when someone takes 18 threes in a game, some of these three-point attempts were just bad...

Here, with quite a bit of time left on the shotclock, Prince settles for a three-pointer without a ton of offense being run on the possession:

On this possession, Prince tries to shake Robert Covington with plenty of time left on the shotclock, steps back and takes a contested three that misses:

In the fourth quarter, Prince tries to size up Ben Simmons (again, with plenty of time on the clock to run some offense), settles for a contested three which misses:

The Hawks have been encouraging Prince to take the three-point shot when it’s there, especially in the last two months but even 18 three-point attempts might be a tad excessive...

Still, Prince made six of them in the end last night and shot 38.5% from three for the season. It has been a successful season for Taurean Prince, all things considered.

Season’s end

The season is over for the Hawks: they finish with a 24-58 record which looks like its going to tie for third worst in the league along with the Dallas Mavericks and Orlando Magic (the Magic play tonight while the Mavs are done for the season).

It’s obviously been a difficult season for the Hawks on the court but one thing they’ve done for the majority of this season is fight and scrap, and they did so again as they hung around in this game and tried to extend it as long as possible by intentionally fouling late in the fourth quarter but to no avail in this game as the Sixers pulled out the win.

Postgame, Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer was reflective and proud of his team in what has been a tough season.

“The thing that stands out to me is just how the guys competed, how they worked tonight, just laying it all on the line. It’s reflective of what they did all year. I couldn’t be more proud,” said Budenholzer. “The growth and the development of a lot of players individually is something that we’ll take a lot of pride in, and know it gives us a lot to look forward to going forward.”

Budenholzer also praised his side’s competitiveness and work ethic as he saw a number of players take big steps forward as the season progressed.

“I thought our guys brought it every night. They competed every night,” said Budenholzer. “We’ve talked about for five years that the most important thing to us is we want to have competitors. They competed and competed. Sometimes the game or the result isn’t what you want, but if you’re competing for 48 minutes, laying it on the line, we’ve always said we can live with results. The day-to-day work stands out to me. This group came to the gym with a great spirit considering it’s not easy to go through a season like we just had. The work ethic – we use the word spirit in practice and in the gym – it stands out to me. The individual growth of a lot of different guys, whether it’s young guys like Dennis, Taurean, John. Baze’s growth as a player, Baze’s growth as a leader. Dewayne Dedmon. You can go down the roster. Guys really understood that it was a priority to get better, and they continued to do that.”

It wasn’t just Mike Budenholzer who saw the progression but his players did too.

“Of course (the season was difficult to go through). You always want to do better than we did this year, but I saw a lot of progression,” said rookie John Collins. “We’re young. We’re going to gain experience. We’re going to get better this summer.”

This Hawks team (players and coaches alike) deserves a lot of credit for their effort: they’ve been fighting even though their season, really, ended a long time ago and even in these last three/four weeks when others teams mailed it in, the Hawks continued to scrap and play hard. It’ll be frustrating to most fans that they won as many games as they did (especially in the final few weeks) but you can’t knock the players for that.

Regardless, it’s done with now and the Hawks can look forward to an interesting summer with a high draft pick.

This will wrap-up the content from the court this season (at least, until Summer League) but there’s a lot more still to come here at Peachtree Hoops as we head into the off-season.

Stay tuned.