Hawks Win! Losing Streak Ends at 7.

12.7.16

Atlanta – All is well again in Atlanta, well at least in the short term, as the Atlanta Hawks defeated the visiting Miami Heat at Philips Arena on Wednesday nigh: 103-95t.  The loss snapped a seven-game losing streak for Atlanta and gave the struggling team a confidence boost after their toughest stretch of the season thus far.  Dwight Howard poured in 23 points and grabbed 17 boards to neutralize a Miami interior that included star big man Hassan Whiteside (Whiteside finished with 8 points to go with 12 rebounds).  Paul Millsap chipped in 21 points and Dennis Schroder 17 as the Hawks grabbed the early lead in the ball game and were able to hold off a short-handed  Miami Heat roster.  With guards Justise Winslow and Josh Richarson both out of the lineup, the game figured to be a breeze for Atlanta however, Miami had other plans.  Miami reserve, Tyler Johnson played nearly 35 minutes and pumped in 27 points and 5 assists for the Heat.  Fellow reserve and former UNC Tarheel, Wayne Ellington added 19 points while making  4 of his 9 three-point shots. It is also fair to note that Miami was not the only team dealing with injuries.  The Hawks were without Kent Bazemore and Tiago Splitter due to injury and lost Tim Hardaway Jr. during the 2nd half after colliding with an attacking Heat player.

Whiteside found it tough to score all night. credit: Miami Herald

Whiteside found it tough to score all night.
credit: Miami Herald

Evident from the opening tip was the fact that both teams were struggling to get things going in the right direction.  Atlanta, after dropping their 7 previous games including a hard fought battle on Monday night against Russell Westbrook and the Thunder, seemed to have added pressure each time down the floor.  Each missed opportunity to score early on came with the undeniable thought of “uh-oh, here we go again”.   Miami, on the other hand, looked much different than the D-Wade, King James Heat and more like a team just trying to find a way to steal a victory and go back to South Beach. As if coming into the contest with an overall record under .500 wasn’t enough, the Heat were faced with a Hawks team hungry to get back into the win column.   Millsaps and Howard set the tone for Atlanta in the 1st quarter with a combined 18 points in the first quarter.  Already much more aggressive than in previous contests, the message seemed to be very clear: attack the basket at all costs.  The Heat received a punch from an unlikely source as Ellington pumped in 10 first quarter points of his own on his way to a great night of shooting.  The Heat were game and were certainly worthy opponents however, the Hawks are a much better team than their record indicates and tonight’s win was a step towards reclaiming the consistent positive play the Hawks need to remain contenders in the Eastern Conference.

Give the Hawks and Coach Mike Budenholzer credit.  Many organizations would look at a seven game losing streak as the precursor to an unforgiving basketball season and the pathway that leads to the NBA lottery.  However, these Hawks remain confident when faced with adversity.  Players were up front in their discussions about the recent struggles yet also just as up front in their intent to keep moving forward  to help this team win.  While the Hawks certainly benefited from improved play from Howard and Millsaps, this was a TEAM win for Atlanta: one this team needed in the worst way.

 

Up Next:

Atlanta Hawks v. Milwaukee Bucks

Friday, December 9th

BMO Harris Bradley Center

Milwaukee, WI

8pm

Leave a Reply