Five observations from the Hawks’ 95-68 loss to the Jazz Friday night.
1. Call in the Rudy Gobert effect. The Hawks let the Jazz interior players alter shots. Gobert had five blocks but he affected many, many more attempts inside. The Hawks were 14 of 43 on shots in the paint for 28 points.
“He had a part to it,” Paul Millsap said of Gobert. “That’s probably the worse lay-up display we’ve had for a while. But good shot-blockers do that. You can give him some credit but also give us a little credit for missing them.”
Hawks coaches and players lamented the fact they didn’t challenge the Jazz inside and the find the open player with an extra pass.
“You need to make some shots,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “They are good protecting the paint, protecting the rim. At some point, you might want to at least try to suck them in and hit some guys for some open shots and then you have to make them.”
2. Dwight Howard was far from the double-double machine he has been this season. He grabbed his first rebound when 4:59 remained in the second quarter. He scored his first points with 10:48 left in the fourth quarter. In all, Howard finished with four points and seven rebounds. He had as many fouls as points.
Howard immediately said the Jazz were not a factor in his or the team’s play.
“No, I think we didn’t shoot that well,” Howard said. “We didn’t have the correct energy on both ends of the floor. I don’t think it was anything special they did. They just played harder than us. They made shots. They got stops when they needed to and got a good win for themselves.”
Howard also shrugged off the notion that he was limited.
“It’s OK,” Howard said when it was noted when he got his first rebound and points. “It’s one game. You can’t think about it too much. You have to keep playing and stay focused. The main thing is not having too many games like this. That should be our whole focus, to not allow a game like this to stop our progress.”
3. The Hawks were doomed by a dreadful second quarter. The Jazz ended the period on a 20-5 run. The Hawks shot just 4 of 21 from the field in the quarter – a lowly 19 percent. They were outscored 24-11 in the quarter, their lowest scoring output for any quarter this season. How bad was it? Kyle Korver even missed a technical free throw.
“All of us, we have to look at ourselves in the mirror to see what we can do to help the team,” Thabo Sefolosha said. “It starts with player one to 15. Everybody has to realize what is not clicking, listen to the coaches, listen to each other and figure it out.”
4. It was a quiet Hawks locker room following the drubbing. Several players sat at their lockers and stared straight ahead. The Hawks offense is not operating as it should. They scored a total of 68 points. This from an offense predicated on ball movement and assists.
The Hawks had four first-half assists – two from Sefolosha and one each from Mike Muscala and Dennis Schroder. That’s not Hawks basketball.
“The concern has been the same,” Millsap said of recent poor play that includes four losses in five games. “We’ve got to get better offensively. I think even in the wins our offense hasn’t been that great. We’ve got to get better at that. We have to get better at reading what defenses are doing to us and denying, back-dooring, learning how to get easy baskets. I think we can get better at that.”
5. Not only have the Hawks lost four of the past five games but their last two losses have come by a combined 45 points. They were blown out by the Pelicans at home and now the Jazz on the road.
“Whether it’s four out of five and we got beat pretty handily a couple nights ago,” Budenholzer said. “We need to find a way to get out of this quickly.”
Kent Bazemore said the Hawks have too much talent to play this poorly.
“It’s frustrating to have all this talent and all these good players and be a mediocre team,” Bazemore said. “It’s tough. It sucks to be a competitor and have your face bashed in on a nightly basis, two of the last three games. It burns.”