The Atlanta Hawks exploded for 38 points and some great defense in the third quarter of their match-up with the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday at Philips Arena to take a lead they would never relinquish as they ran out 120-113 winners.
In a game that was keenly contested and highlighted by 43 points from the Timberwolves’ Kevin Love the Atlanta Hawks needed a harsh reminder of how they needed to play the game as they fell behind in the second quarter to go in at the half down by six points.
Hawks Head Coach delivered a halftime message that resonated with the Hawks who responded with their season-best tying points, 38, while holding the Minnesota Timberwolves to only 21 points.
Kyle Korver said of Coach Budenholzer’s message “Coach laid into us at halftime. He really did. I thought the guys responded…Hopefully he doesn’t have to talk to us like that all the time.
What becomes apparent about this team is that, in the absence of their injured star, Al Horford, the Atlanta Hawks have become a better team with more players contributing a greater amount to the teams’ success.
Kyle Korver extended his NBA record of 115 consecutive games with at least one three point field goal made and he led the team with 24 points but Millsap had 20 points and Jeff Teague and DeMarre Carroll both added 19 points.
Paul Millsap added 13 rebounds for a team-leading 17th double-double to celebrate his being named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team.
Coach Budenholzer said that, after halftime, “The whole group responded. DeMarre set a defensive tone for us. I think everybody else follows that. There are a lot of guys that stepped up and did different things when it got close late.
“Mike Scott came off the bench…and makes a big three-pointer. Jeff Teague makes a big three-pointer, Gustavo makes a lay-up and DeMarre steps up and makes five out of six free throws.”
While this team has a long way to go there is no doubt that their performance has surprised a lot of the pundits who closely follow the NBA. While a record of 25-21 is only good enough for the fourth best record in the Eastern Conference it is certainly not a position that the Hawks were not expected to occupy at the start of the season.
Next up for the Hawks is a home game against the Indiana Pacers while the Minnesota Timberwolves head out west to take on the Lakers.