Five observations from the Hawks’ 111-98 victory over the Bucks Sunday night, their eighth win in the past nine games.
1. Welcome to Atlanta, Mike Dunleavy. The newly-acquired guard/forward had 20 points off the bench in his second game in a Hawks uniform after being traded from the Cavaliers last week. Dunleavy was 4 of 5 from 3-point range and enticed Michael Beasley into a shooting foul on a 3-point attempt. He is 6 of 8 from 3-point range with the Hawks.
“It’s an easy group of guys and an easy way to play to fit in with,” said Dunleavy, who had 10 first-quarter points. “Obviously, I’ve been playing against this team for a number of years. I understand what they try to do offensively. It’s been pretty seamless thus far. Defensively, still trying to figure some things out and get more comfortable. Overall, I feel pretty good for two games.”
Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer cautioned to temper the expectations on Dunleavy. He did play Dunleavy over rookies DeAndre Bembry and Taurean Prince.
“It’s too games and we have to be careful not to put too much into it but I would say there has always been a belief that this would be a good place for him and a good way to play, moving and cutting and all those things,” Budenholzer said. “He is relishing his opportunity and we have welcomed him with open arms. Now that challenge is to come out and do it every night.”
2. Kent Bazemore led the Hawks with a team-high 24 points. It was a welcomed sight for the guard who has struggled with his shot much of the season.
“Just being aggressive and letting it fly,” said Bazemore, who had 13 third-quarter points. “If you can get it off, let it go. Teammates have been believing in me. Stayed the course. Showed up every day working hard. Tonight was one of those nights.”
The point total was one off Bazemore’s season high, which he hit at the Cavaliers on Nov. 8. It was only the third time he reached 20 points since that game.
“Lots of times, he is so hard on himself,” Budenholzer said. “When he focuses on his defense and all those things, I’ve said it publically, that’s where his focus is when he is great defensively, active, getting rebounds and let the offense come to him. That’s when he’s at his best. We have a ton of faith in him. He is going to be good and make shots.”
3. The Hawks took control of the game with a 19-4 run to end the first and start the second quarter. Paul Millsap hit a 3-pointer to start the run and Bazemore dominated the stretch. The Hawks took a 52-40 lead and never looked back.
Credit the bench for much of the decisive run. In addition to Dunleavy, Malcolm Delaney had nine points and nine assists in the game. In the past three games, Delaney is averaging 12.7 points and 5.3 assists while making 15 of 24 from the field and 5 of 8 from 3-point range.
“That bench group was huge for us, end of the first and beginning of the second,” Budenholzer said. “That group is playing well together and getting a little bit of chemistry. To integrate Mike Dunleavy quickly into that group has been very good for us.”
4. They still hate Matthew Dellavedova in Atlanta – and elsewhere. Once again, Dellavedova was booed every time he touched the ball. The dislike stems from two incidents against the Hawks during the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals when the guard was with the Cavaliers. Dellavedova rolled into the ankle of Kyle Korver in Game 2 and ended his season with a broken bone and ligament damage. He also went low on Al Horford in Game 3 and the center was ejected for an elbow in the fracas.
“I know they don’t like me in a couple places,” Dellavedova said.
5. The Hawks lost Mike Muscala to a left ankle injury in the first quarter, just 42 seconds into his first shift. Muscala stepped on Dennis Schroder's foot and went down. Muscala got up and was immediately helped to the locker room. Soon after, the Hawks announced he would not return.
Following the game, Budenholzer said Muscala would not travel to New York for Monday afternoon’s game against the Knicks so he doesn’t experience further swelling. Budenholzer said Muscala would be re-evaluating Tuesday before a decision is made on whether he will join the team for Wednesday’s game at the Pistons.