The Hawks’ defense isn’t quite back yet … but it’s getting close.
After allowing the Mavericks 34 first-quarter points Wednesday night, the Hawks limited them to quarters of 19, 15 and 19. The result was a come-from-behind 104-87 win.
“It feels good,” DeMarre Carroll said of the defensive effort in the past two games. “It feels like we are trusting each other. Guys have each other’s back on the defensive end. We are flying by guys. That is the biggest thing these last couple games.”
Here are my five observations from the game:
1. It’s probably perfectly reasonable to assume that part of the Hawks’ slow start was due to the on-off-on again game. Hawks players were told mid-afternoon the game was postponed. Kyle Korver planned dinner with his family. Carroll and family went grocery shopping.
This is what Carroll told me after the game about the situation: “Not to make excuses but as an NBA player, this being our job, it’s not only physical it’s mental too. They told me the game was off and I got my family and we went to the grocery store. We thought we were going to get snowed in. Then I get a text message when I’m in aisle seven pushing the buggy and they tell me the game is on. I had to hurry up. There was a lot of chaos.”
Mavericks were players were in similar positions but they were at a team hotel only waiting to hear if a bus would take them to the arena or the airport.
2. Dennis Schroder did it again to the Mavericks. The reserve point guard had a team-high 17 points in the win. He set his career-high of 22 points in the game at Dallas in December. In the two games, Schroder averaged 19.5 points, 5.0 assists, 1.5 rebounds and shot 53.3 percent from the floor (16 of 30) and 50 percent from 3-point range (4 of 8). The 22 and 17 points are his two highest point outputs of the season.
“I thought Dennis early, middle, late was really a big factor,” coach Mike Budenholzer said.
3. Back to the defense, the Hawks did a much better job controlling Monte Ellis in the second half. The Mavs guard threatened to get away from them with 15 first-half points on 7 of 10 shooting. He was limited to just four second-half points on 2 of 4 shooting.
4. The other day I asked Budenholzer about sticking with Pero Antic despite his shooting woes. In a nutshell, the coach was he has no plans to change his rotation concerning Antic. He noted the many other things Antic brings to the team when he is on the floor. I talked with Antic following Wednesday’s game. He said he knows his shooting hasn’t been good but he is confident he will break out of his slump. He also noted the other things he is able to bring to the team. Finally he added that winning is most important. He noted a conversation we had last year when he was the finished with a high point total but the Hawks lost. He just cares about helping the team win.
5. Korver is starting to get his 3-point rhythm back. He was 4 of 10 from long range Wednesday. He worked at the end of practice Tuesday with keeping a wider base with his legs when he shoots. He now has 171 3-pointers this season, already good for seventh on the franchise’s all-time single-season list. He is one away from tying Jason Terry for the sixth spot. By the way, he also owns the fourth (189 in 2012-13) and fifth (185 in 2013-14) spots.