Hawks Push Past Mavericks After Second-Half Surge

Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie dribbles down the floor in the closing minutes of Brooklynn’s blowout win in Atlanta Dec. 4. Kevin Kilgour/Sports Editor

The Atlanta Hawks emerged triumphant in a game against the Dallas Mavericks Dec. 23, winning the match 112-107. Star point guard Dennis Schroder led the way as he tied his career high in points with 33.

With the win, the Hawks still have the worst record in the NBA at 8-25 while the Mavericks sit half a game above at 9-25. Both teams are in rebuilding mode and likely to miss the playoffs because they’re both sitting at the bottom of their respective conferences.

This season has been a difficult one for the Hawks, who are currently going through a rebuild. Though only 33 games into the season, it already seems safe to say that the Hawks’ 10-season streak of making the playoffs is coming to a close.

Earlier this month in another game featuring two teams in the lower half of the Eastern Conference standings, the Brooklyn Nets prevailed over the Atlanta Hawks with a 110-90 victory Dec. 5.

The Hawks entered the Dec. 5 contest with reason for confidence after winning the first leg of their double header with the Nets in Brooklyn Dec. 2, 114-102. But it was a different story in Atlanta as the Nets dominated the second half to grab the win.

Schroder led the way for the Hawks with 19 points, five rebounds and four assists. But he faded in the second half, only scoring two points after the break. Hawks shooting guards Kent Bazemore and DeAndre’ Bembry added 13 points each.

Brooklyn was paced by small forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who had 16 points and nine boards, and shooting guard Caris LeVert, who came off the bench to pour in 17 points and add seven assists. The Nets had a balanced scoring effort with six players in double figures.

Hawks forward DeAndre’ Bembry drives and draws contact. Kevin Kilgour/Sports Editor

The teams started out quickly in a high paced first quarter, 33-32 advantage Brooklyn. Both teams started to tighten up a bit in the second quarter. It was a back-and-forth game with 10 lead changes — no team was able to take control of the game during the first half. Schroder impressed with eight of 10 shooting and 17 points in the first half.

The Hawks left the first half with a 54-53 lead. The Nets opened the third quarter on 17-0 run to jump out to a 16-point lead. The Hawks weren’t able to score until halfway through the quarter when Bazemore delivered a trio of free throws. The Hawks found themselves trailing the Nets 84-69 after three frames.

“We hit a little bit of a wall [in the third quarter],” Head Coach Mike Budenholzer said. “All of us could be better in that quarter. Give them some credit. We can play better. And the game just changed there. We need to avoid [those] type of stretches.”

The momentum continued to swing in the Nets favor despite several comeback attempts. The weak interior defense of the Hawks allowed Nets players to get several dunks and layups in the paint.

At the other end, the Hawks were not able to get the same quality looks. The Nets maintained at least a nine-point lead as they closed out the game.

Both teams turned the ball over a combined 40 times and yet neither team properly capitalized on the other’s sloppiness.

The Hawks’ defense allowed the Nets to shoot 48.2 percent accuracy from the field while the Hawks mustered a 36.6 percent rate from the field.

Another deciding factor in the game for the Hawks was shooting from behind the arc. Mostly a strength for much of the year, the Hawks were only able to shoot 30 percent from three-point land. The percentage was even worse in the second half, particularly in the third quarter where the game was lost.

“Everything was short in the second half,” Budenholzer said. “I just think [we] didn’t have the same juice, same energy, in the third quarter. Now [if] we had some shots that went in and out, a couple more go in, it’s a different game.”

 Atlanta has since gone 3-7 for a season record of 8-25, dropping behind the Bulls into last place in the Eastern Conference standings. The team is scheduled to host point guard John Wall and the Washington Wizards Dec. 27.