The Atlanta Hawks used a dominating fourth quarter on Wednesday night to overcome a pesky Sacramento Kings who had kept it close until then. Shooting 70 percent from the field and 62.5% from outside the three-point line was the difference in the game as Sacramento’s defense went missing late.
It wasn’t supposed to be a close game as the Hawks, who came into the game at 13-12, have owned the 7-16 Sacramento Kings in recent times at Philips Arena in Atlanta but for three quarters it was way too tight until Al Horford and Kyle Korver shot 12 and 11 points respectively in the fourth to spur the Hawks on to a 17 point victory.
The game started out with the Hawks taking the early initiative and running up an early 14 point lead due, in part, to the their dominance on the defensive boards and subsequently limiting Sacramento to any second chance points. By the end of the first quarter, however the Kings had clawed their way back into the game.
Both the second and third quarters went back and forth, particularly the third quarter where there were 14 lead changes and the Kings led at one point by as many as five points.
The key to the offensive second half was the fact that both teams’ defense went AWOL. Neither team could stop the other from scoring until the fourth quarter when Atlanta’s defense showed up while Sacramento’s was still missing.
In the third quarter the Hawks shot 61 percent from the field and went four for four from beyond the three-point line, even the Kings shot 57 percent from the field.
But in the fourth quarter the Hawks defense showed up and stifled the Kings offense cutting them back to less than 39 percent shooting while the Hawks’ offense went on a tear shooting 70 percent with Al Horford six for six while Kyle Korver and Mike Scott combining for five of eight from three point range.
Head Coach Mike Budenholzer said after the game “I liked the way our group started and I liked the way our group finished tonight….Tonight was one of those nights where we were fortunate to have a lot of guys to make shots.”
Indeed, all five Hawks starters were in double figures with Kyle Korver leading the way with a season high 28 points.
Budenholzer spoke about Korver’s night, “Kyle gets three’s a lot of different ways. It’s been great to be around him…he knows how to find an open shot.”
In the other locker room a disconsolate Michael Malone pointed the blame at himself, “I don’t know where to begin. I guess I’m not doing a good enough job to give our players a game plan that they can execute, and I’m not doing a good enough job explaining who the players are on their team who can make shots.”
Malone added, “We’re one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA…I have to do a much better job in teaching our defense.”
With the win the Hawks moved to 14-12 while the Kings fell to 7-17. Up next for Atlanta is a home game Friday night against the Utah Jazz while the Sacramento Kings continue their east coast road trip in Miami on Friday.