On a night when Atlanta rapper Gucci Mane stole the show by proposing to his girlfriend and performing his verse from the No. 1 song in the country, “Black Beatles,” the Atlanta Hawks failed to be real crowd pleasers as they were blown out by the New Orleans Pelicans 112-94 in Philips Arena.
It was a dismal showing from start to finish for the Hawks (9-5), who head to Indiana for the second night of a back-to-back in the midst of a three-game losing streak. These are the main takeaways from Tuesday night.
Poor perimeter defense
Pelicans (5-10) guards Tim Frazier and E’Twaun Moore had their way with the Atlanta defense all night long. The duo combined to shoot six-of-11 from three and had just one turnover. Frazier posted 21 points, 14 assists, five rebounds and three steals while Moore added 15 points of his own.
“They played well tonight,” forward Kent Bazemore said. “They made some shots and passed the ball well. They played well as a unit, probably the best effort we’ve faced all year as far as moving the ball and making shots. I give them credit. They had a gameplan and stuck to it.”
No Anthony Davis, no problem
The All-NBA power forward left the game early after he dove into the stands to save a loose ball and suffered a right knee contusion that kept him in the locker room for the second and third quarters, before returning to play in the fourth. In place of Davis, the Pelicans leaned heavily on Terrence Jones, who had 17 points on seven-of-13 shooting to go with six boards.
Hawks power forward Paul Millsap said Jones did a good job getting to the lane and brought a lot of energy to the Pelicans when they lost their leading man.
“His pump fake is mean,” Millsap said.
Hawks struggle to score inside
Even though New Orleans was without one of the league’s top rim protectors, Atlanta struggled to score near the basket. The Hawks had just 34 points in the paint and Millsap and center Dwight Howard only took 15 shots combined.
“We probably missed a ton of layups, didn’t get to the free throw line much and that’s just a lack of attacking the rim,” Bazemore said.
The Pelicans had nine blocks in the game and also held the Hawks to just 10 foul shots.
While Atlanta had difficulties finishing in close, New Orleans did everything it could to create easy shots.
“They were too comfortable,” coach Mike Budehnolzer said. “They were too free. They had a lot of open looks.”
The Pelicans half-court offense was fluid all game as players consistently moved the ball to create uncontested opportunities. They had 29 assists and each player besides two recorded at least one. Additionally, they had 23 fast break points to the Hawks’ nine.
“The ball didn’t stick and they found open shooters,” Howard said.