The Hawks ran their home record to 4-0 with an impressive 114-103 victory over the Heat Friday night. The Hawks placed eight players in double-figure scoring and had a season-best 33 assists.
Paul Millsap and Al Horford each had 19 points to lead the Hawks in the wire-to-wire victory.
Here are my five observations from the game:
1. This is a game the Hawks might have lost last season. They started fast and led by as many as 16 points. However, the Heat responded and cut their deficit to four points three times. After the last run, to make it 81-77 with 1:47 left in the third quarter, the Hawks went on a 23-8 run to regain control of the game and then some.
“It’s a pretty good all-around game,” Millsap said. “We still made a few mistakes. But we’ll get better at it.”
There are real signs of growth for the team. And a deeper bench doesn’t hurt either.
2. The Hawks struggled early on the boards but it’s clear the gang-rebounding message preached by coach Mike Budenholzer is making a difference. For the second straight game, the Hawks out-rebounded an opponent. Against the Heat, the edge was 36-32. It made a difference in the Hawks being able to run and get into its offense quicker.
3. You don’t have eight players score in double figures without sharing the basketball. The Hawks finished with a season-high 33 assists. They had only 13 turnovers. The Hawks entered the game fourth in the NBA with 23.9 assists per game. In eight games, they have had 20 or more assists seven times and 25 or more assists five times.
“Obviously the ball movement and making shots and sharing the ball were very good,” coach Mike Budenholzer said.
4. There was plenty of praise in the Hawks’ postgame locker room for Dennis Schroder. The second-year point guard continued an impressive stretch. He finished with 10 points, six assists, two steals and zero turnovers.
“Dennis, his confidence seems to get bigger every game,” Horford said. “It’s a really good sign to see.”
5. Thabo Sefolosha has been impressive defensively this season. He has performed well in subbing for DeMarre Carroll in the starting lineup the past two games. Sefolosha finished with 12 points against the Heat. The best sign was that one of his four field goals was a 3-pointer – his first of the season after starting with eight straight misses.