MEMPHIS – The Hawks nearly won a game – on the road against the team with the second-best record in the Western Conference – when Al Horford and Paul Millsap combined to shoot 4 of 21 from the field. It was costly mistakes in the final three minutes, including two turnovers, which led to a 94-88 loss to the Grizzlies Sunday at FedExForum.
Here are my five observations from the game:
1. Many are going to use this game as an example of why the Hawks need another big man or rim protector. I don’t see it. Yes, the Hawks were outrebounded 55-37. Again, in spite of that margin they were in the game until the end. They lost this game for two reasons. The Grizzlies, Tony Allen in particular, got the hustle rebounds and loose balls. Much of the shooting woes of Horford and Millsap were missed open shots. Horford missed his first five shots, all open looks.
2. The Hawks have won games this season with a boisterous home crowd behind them. They had the tables turned on them in Memphis. The Grizzlies crowd was loud, particularly in the final three minutes, and may have played a part in the late and costly Hawks turnovers.
3. Mike Scott is finding the shot that was missing in action earlier this season. The reserve forward was 3 of 4 from 3-point range against the Grizzlies, including two big shots in the fourth quarter. In the past two games, Scott has averaged 14 points and has made 6 of 7 3-pointers.
4. It’s noteworthy that in back-to-back games against the top two teams in the Western Conference, the Hawks competed in two different styles of basketball. They ran with the Warriors in a victory Friday in Atlanta. They played the slow-down, physical style against the Grizzlies Sunday in Memphis.
5. Coach Mike Budenholzer talks – a lot – about the need to get better each day. He will have some talking points following the loss to the Grizzlies. In the cauldron of the playoffs, one or two mistakes will cost games. They did Sunday. The miscommunication between Jeff Teague and Al Horford led to one turnover and Kyle Korver had a physical mistake that led to another turnover.