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Hawks falter in second half to lose to Grizzlies 79-76

The Atlanta Hawks extended their losing streak to three games in a defensive struggle against the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night at Philips Arena in Atlanta. A costly third quarter proved to be the difference between the two teams as the Grizzlies ran out winners by 79-76.

Photos from Atlanta Hawks home loss to Memphis Grizzlies 79-76, February 8, 2014-slide0
Photography by Andrew Snook
Atlanta Hawks Cheerleader
Photography by Andrew Snook

The game was remarkable for its defense; Atlanta allowed a season low 79 points for the game overall. Furthermore the Grizzlies only went to the line one time in the entire game! As good as the defense was, Atlanta's offense struggled as Memphis' defense was just as solid and Atlanta scored a season-low 76 points!

As remarkable as both teams defense was you’d never have guessed it in the first quarter. Both teams came out firing on all cylinders. Atlanta scored 29 points in the first quarter on 63 percent shooting. Memphis scored 27 points.

However both teams offensive explosion was short-lived as the momentum gained in the first quarter ground to a halt in the second quarter and defense took over. Atlanta scored only 14 points in the second but held Memphis It was worse in the third and only 11 in the third quarter.

It was a strange night for the Hawks as they shot only 53 percent from the free-throw line versus 78 percent for the season. They had 21 turnovers versus an average of 15 for the season. But their falling short was as much about when the turnovers and missed foul shots happened. Atlanta just couldn’t establish any momentum and they sputtered offensively as Memphis pressured them continuously.

Coach Budenholzer took the defensive performance as a major positive. “We really competed on the defensive end of the court. To hold a team to 79 points is a good thing in this league. Offensively we have to get to our pace and the way we want to play. It’s a credit to Memphis. They want to play a slow-down game.”

Just as Budenholzer was positive about the hawks defense so was Coach Joerger for the Grizzlies. “ The Hawks has 22 points in the first seven minutes and for the rest of the game they got 54 total, so I thought we really clamped down.”

Zach Randolph, Grizzly forward added. “It was a physical game, I like that…We tried to get a few stops and make it a contact game and not let them run out and get layups, and that’s what we did.”

Randolph, for the Grizzlies and Paul Millsap for the Hawks led all scorers with 20 points. Millsap also added 11 rebounds for his 19th double-double. Also of note was the fact that Kyle Korver extended his streak of games with at least one three point shot made to 117.

Up next for the Hawks is a three-game road trip starting in Chicago on the 11th while Memphis head to Cleveland for a match-up against the Cavaliers on the ninth.