Jeff Teague said it best.
“Paul Millsap is a beast,” the Hawks point guard stated.
Millsap finished with 30 points – without a single free-throw attempt – and 17 rebounds as the Hawks defeated the Jazz 100-97 Wednesday night at Philips Arena for their third straight win. Teague added 20 points and Kyle Korver had a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Five observations from the game:
1. The Hawks did not have a strong defensive game – until the fourth quarter. They held the Jazz to just nine points on 4 of 18 shooting. Gordon Hayward was 0 of 7 in the final period.
The Hawks outrebound the Jazz 18-8 in the fourth quarter, including four offensive rebounds.
“I think probably our effort, our determination, to get contest,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “I think to play without fouling and still have an edge and still make every shot difficult. And then to take care of the boards. Kyle (Korver) had 10 rebounds. It’s really tough for bigs who are in there battling and holding and doing things that bigs do and to have our guards come in and help out. Kyle got a couple big ones. Thabo (Sefolosha) got one at the free-throw line. Not only do you have to play good defense initially, you have to finish it. It’s not a stop until you get the rebound. I think we did both of those things.”
2. The Hawks ended the game with an 11-0 run. They trailed 97-89 with 4:34 remaining after the Jazz went on a 7-0 run. They would not score again. Millsap had two baskets, Sefolosha had a bucket, Teague hit two free-throws and Korver drained a deep 3-pointer.
“Talent,” Sefolosha said of the decisive run. “Just trusting one another. The ball is moving just as well in the first quarter as the last quarter. It’s trusting the system and playing our game.”
3. Quin Snyder may regret working so much with Korver. The Hawks sharp-shooter hit a long 3-pointer with 58 seconds left to give the Hawks a 98-97 lead.
“I practiced that shot last year with Quin,” Korver said. “That was the one he was always trying to get me to work on. It’s a little ironic that the first time I shoot it, it’s tonight
“(Derrick Favors) switched out. I just backed up to get a lay of the land and see if there was a mismatch or see what was open. The only thing I saw that was open was to pull it. Try to get a little rhythm and let it go.”
Did his teammates hold their breath when Korver let it go? No.
“I knew it was good,” Teague said. “I didn’t even celebrate. I knew it was going in. I just ran back on D. That is just what he does.”
“I’m going down to the other end,” Millsap said. “He is a sharp-shooter, sniper. That is the type of range he has.”
4. Millsap dominated his former team. In addition to the 30 points and 17 rebounds, the power forward added three assists, two steals and two blocks. It was Millsap’s third double-double of the season. Eleven on the rebounds were defensive end.
“I was really just going after the ball and being aggressive, getting back to doing the things that go me here,” Millsap said. “That’s getting down there and getting dirty and getting rebounds.”
5. With DeMarre Carroll (groin strain) and Mike Scott (lower back contusion) out, Budenholzer had to alter his rotations. Sefolosha started in place of Carroll. Kent Bazemore was the first sub at the position and played nine minutes. Mike Muscala got his first playing time of the season. He ended up with four points – a put-back and two free throws. Muscala is now a perfect 16-for-16 from the free-throw line as a pro. Elton Brand, John Jenkins and Adreian Payne, all active, did not play, as Budenholzer went 10-deep.