The Hawks placed six scorers in double figures in a laugher of a 105-75 win over the Hornets Saturday night at Philips Arena.
The Hawks held the Hornets to 17 first-quarter points and 11 second-quarter points. They led by as many as 44 points, an incredible 80-36 score with 7:45 left in the third period.
The Hawks (9-6) are rolling and have now won four of five and eight of 11.
Here are five observations from the game:
1. Message received. Following ugly back-to-back losses to Cavaliers and Lakers, coach Mike Budenholzer held a fiery film session with his team. He broke down the many defensive inconsistencies and poor habits from the first 10 games of the season – particularly in those two defeats. The Hawks have responded by winning four of the past five games.
It appears the defense-first message is really sinking in.
“We are not going to be one of those teams that says we want to be good on defense,” Paul Millsap said. “We really want to be good on defense.
2. Did you think it was possible for the Hawks to have a better first half than Friday’s effort against the Pelicans? Turns out it was. Just ask the Hornets. The Hawks held the Pelicans and Hornets to 28 first-half points on consecutive nights. On Saturday, the Hornets managed just 11 second-quarter points on 4 of 20 shooting and trailed by 36 points, 64-28, at intermission. The first-half stats were glaring. The Hawks shot 61 percent (25 of 41), including 8 of 9 from 3-point range. The Hornets shot 25.6 percent (11 of 43), including 1 of 11 from 3-point range.
“When you are playing good defense and getting all those steals, the offense comes easy,” DeMarre Carroll said.
The 74 points allowed is a season-low for the Hawks.
3. The depth of the Hawks is starting to show – even in blowout game like this. It will be important as the season wears on or if the injury bug bites. Elton Brand played a team-high 28 minutes in only his third appearance of the season. He finished with nine points and nine rebounds. Kent Bazemore had a career-high eight rebounds. Dennis Schroder continues to prove the Hawks correct by using a first-round pick on him last year. He scored 12 points. The double-figure effort was the seventh, and third straight, game he has done so. The point guard scored in double figures just twice as a rookie.
4. Perhaps lost in the Hawks’ lopsided victory was that they won going away with Jeff Teague scoring just six points. The point guard, who has been stellar of late, still had 10 assists in 21 minutes. Teague entered averaging nearly 26 points in the past five games. He got others involved and with the defense as strong as it was, he was able to rest.
5. For all the strides the then-Bobcats, now-Hornets made last season, they are a shadow of that team. They play far too much one-on-one basketball. There is no flow to the offense. The addition of Lance Stephenson has messed with the team chemistry in a way that is revealing itself on the floor. The Hornets have lost nine straight and 11 of 12 games since they defeated the Hawks in double overtime – on Stephenson’s prayer shot – on Nov. 7. Something is not right. They started the season with a brutal schedule but they looked every bit of a 4-14 (1-8 road) team.