Five observations from the Hawks 1117-114 overtime exhibition win over the Hornets Monday night at Philips Arena:
1. It’s still happening. The Hawks are going lengthy stretches where they are unable to score or stop the opposition. At times the Hawks are running near perfection – like when they went on a 20-0 run between the first and second quarters to take a 40-24 lead. Yet less than 12 minutes later, the 16-point lead was gone and the Hornets were right back in the game.
“We are playing well in stretches and we are playing beneath our standards for significant stretches,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “All of us, we have to get better. …
“Any time that you can’t maintain it and you’ve done it for a few nights, it becomes a concern. It’s something we’ll look at and hopefully all of us will improve and get better.”
The inability to play a complete game was an issue last season. It is easy to shake the inconsistency off during the preseason, but the Hawks will have things to fix moving into the regular season.
“It is just the preseason but that is probably the number one thing we have to focus on going forward is we are not putting together 48-minutes games,” Kyle Korver said. “We have been really good in stretches but we’ve had some really bad stretches too, offensively and defensively we’ve had some lulls. We’ve got to clean some stuff up.”
2. Dennis Schroder isn’t ready to surrender the back-up point guard position to Shelvin Mack just yet. Schroder got the bulk of the minutes Monday and 12 points, five assists, two rebounds and just two turnovers in 24 minutes. Shelvin Mack had three points in 12 minutes.
Budenholzer said Schroder’s playing time was part by design and part by his play.
“My confidence right now is through the roof,” Schroder said. “… I see that coach trusts me now and puts me in the game. I’m confident and just play my game and every time I don’t think about it, it works out well.”
Mack is still likely the back-up point guard but Schroder is gaining more trust.
3. Welcome back Paul Millsap. In Saturday’s loss to the Pistons, Millsap had just five points on 1-of-11 shooting. In Monday’s win over the Hornets, the forward finished with a game-high 21 points. He was 9 of 10 from the free-throw line, two nights after he missed seven freebies, including four straight down the stretch with the game on the line.
“I was able to get in a rhythm, knock down some baskets and some free throws,” Millsap said.
4. Budenholzer said before the game that he would use the final two exhibition games to work his way into a regular-season rotation. The coach has said he may go as many as 10 deep. John Jenkins, Mike Muscala and rookie Adreian Payne did not play and Pero Antic played just three minutes (training camp invitees Dexter Pittman and Jarell Eddie also did not play). Budenholzer did use three point guards Monday. There is certain to be variation from night to night based on matchup and circumstances but you can see the way Budenholzer is leaning.
5. He won’t say it, but it is clear the protective mask is a hindrance to Antic. The center missed his one shot, an open 3-pointer, in his limited action. “No excuses, I have to wear it,” Antic said. Antic must wear the mask for a minimum of the first regular-season game Oct. 29 against the Raptors. It could come off by the first of November.