The league’s top-ranked defensive team, the Atlanta Hawks, failed to look the part in Tuesday’s loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. The game got out of hand early, even as Pelicans big man Anthony Davis left the game with what seemed to be a knee injury in the first quarter. Led by stellar shooting performances from Tim Frazier, Terrence Jones, and E’Twaun Moore, New Orleans sprinted to the lead with an 18-1 run in the first half and didn’t look back.
No Davis, No Problem
The story of the Pelicans this season and in seasons past has been the large number of injuries sustained by their key players. Davis missed a chunk of this game spanning from the middle of the first quarter to early in the fourth, yet still managed to score 13 in 18 minutes. The team is also missing Tyreke Evans, and point guard Jrue Holiday came off the bench as he looks to get back into game shape.
Despite all of this, New Orleans found plenty of production from their other pieces. Frazier, who has filled in at the point guard spot while Holiday has been away, had one of the best games of his career putting up 21 points while dishing out 14 assists. The veteran Jones also contributed 17 points as he continued his good run of play against the Hawks. Moore and Holiday were also in double digits, and the Pelicans shot 53 percent overall on the night, giving fans hope that the team is turning things around after a 2-10 start.
Another Dud for Atlanta
Coming off a winless weekend, this is not the performance that head coach Mike Budenholzer wanted to see from his Hawks squad. The top-ranked defensive team in the NBA couldn’t stop the Pelicans, even when All-Star center Anthony Davis was sidelined. The bench unit, which has been a driving force for the team early in the season, has struggled to produce the same numbers over the last few games. On top of that, they shot just 46 percent from the field, leading to the blowout.
There were very few bright spots for Atlanta, with the entire starting lineup registering double-digit negatives in the plus-minus category. Dennis Schroder and Kyle Korver both finished with 14 points, and Paul Millsap chipped in ten. Kent Bazemore was very disappointing, shooting 0-6 from the floor, and Dwight Howard was unable to get anything going inside the paint. While this three game losing streak is troubling for the team that was first in the East, games like these should be more of the exception and not the norm.
The Hawks have a quick turnaround, traveling to face former Hawk Jeff Teague and the Indiana Pacers tomorrow night. This is the beginning of a five-game road trip for Atlanta, who will be looking to get back to winning ways once again.
The Pelicans are also in action tomorrow night on national television, facing off against Karl-Anthony Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves on ESPN.