Atlanta Hawks: Studs and Duds
The Atlanta Hawks started the season out on the right foot, splitting their first pair of games and showing everyone that they aren't going to be a pushover this season.
Of course, Atlanta got its 1-1 record in true Hawk fashion, making the easier things seem hard and the harder challenges seem like they weren’t that tough to begin with.
Let’s recap: Friday night, season opener at home against the Houston Rockets, hardly a title contender.
What do they do? They get torched by James Harden’s 45 points and they lose 109-102.
In their defense, Harden seems to have a personal vendetta against the entire league and is playing out of his mind, averaging 35.3 points in his first three games as a Rocket.
Two days later, the Hawks seemed well on the way to 0-2 as they headed to Oklahoma City to play against the Thunder without Josh Smith.
Of course, in true George Costanza fashion, they did the opposite of what was expected of them.
They actually played a fundamentally sound game throughout to beat the Thunder 104-95.
Explaining the way this Hawks team works is mind-boggling, but let’s take a look at who were the studs and duds of the weekend for Atlanta.
Stud: Al Horford
You can’t start a list of studs without Atlanta’s biggest hero on Sunday night against Oklahoma City.
The NBA is currently in an era where impactful big men are becoming a rare breed, as the LeBron’s and Durant’s of the world take over the landscape.
Horford, however, is one of the few indispensable centers left in the game nowadays.
The 26-year-old Dominican Republic native set the tone against the Thunder with 23 points and 12 rebounds.
Horford crashed the boards and attacked the paint from the get-go as he won his personal duel with Kendrick Perkins.
It’s easy to say that someone should step up when, in Atlanta’s case, they were missing a key player like Josh Smith.
Horford didn’t shrink from the moment and delivered to get the Hawks to .500, proving once again that he is a true franchise player.
Dud: Kyle Korver
Korver is a do-or-die 3-point shooter and doesn’t really have any other outstanding aspects in his game, so you can pretty much bet on him having a miserable day when his aim is off.
The 31-year-old forward put up a big “squadoosh” as a starter against the Rockets on Friday.
Zero points. Nada. Zilch.
Eight measly points would have been useful in the seven point loss, but Korver was a black hole instead, going 0-for-3 from the field and 0-for-2 from long range.
His performance was so bad that he played only 15 minutes in the game, less than anyone that started or came off the bench.
Korver “improved” on Sunday against the Thunder, scoring four points and collecting four rebounds in 20 minutes as he went 1-for-5 from the field.
He missed four 3-pointers, but he did make one, so that…is progress. Maybe.
Korver can do much better than this, and there is no reason to think that he won’t soon enough.
Stud: Jeff Teague
Teague is proving that he deserves to be the starting point guard for the Atlanta Hawks, because he has had the pulse of the team in his hands.
The Wake Forest product may not be Chris Paul 2.0, but he stepped up with two very solid games to steer the team in the right direction.
The numbers will say that he had 14 points and seven assists on Friday against Houston, while two days later he provided 16 points and five dimes against the Thunder.
However, Teague’s performance went far beyond what the cold hard numbers say.
Teague ignited what seemed to be a moribund team in the third quarter against the Rockets, by ramping up the fastbreak opportunities that got the Hawks back in the game.
Then, two days later, he took care of the ball so well that the Hawks made only 10 turnovers in the entire game against the Thunder.
Teague also contributed on the defensive end, getting three steals and frustrating Russell Westbrook to the point that the Oklahoma City star went 5-for-18 from the field.
The 24-year-old guard also attacked the paint fearlessly and that allowed him to have a very effective weekend, making 13 of his 22 shots (59%).
All in all, this has been a very successful start of the season for Teague.
Dud: Devin Harris
Teague’s success was not very beneficial for Harris, who doesn’t seem to have his legs under him just yet.
The veteran PG started against the Rockets alongside Teague but was relegated to the bench against the Thunder.
The demotion didn’t make a dent in his minutes, 23 and 22 respectively.
His performance did leave something to be desired, as he scored a total of 16 points in the two games on 40 percent shooting.
Harris' points weren’t as lacking as his assist totals, two against the Rockets and just one against the Thunder.
In other words, not very point guard-like.
Harris seems to be uncertain so far, navigating new waters with fresh faces and a new system.
Give him time, Harris will rebound from this and put up the numbers he usually does soon enough.
Stud: Lou Williams
Lou Williams has had no problem whatsoever getting himself acclimated to his new surroundings.
Williams scored a team-high 22 points against the Rockets and then followed that up by taking over in the fourth quarter against the Thunder.
Williams scored ten points in a row for the Hawks midway through the fourth quarter as they went from having an 83-82 lead to widening it to 91-86.
The 24-year-old guard then proceeded to ice the deal by making the free throws that sealed the game.
That is called being clutch, ninja-style.
Dud: Anthony Morrow
Morrow did not play in the opener against the Rockets and then had just five points in 14 minutes against the Thunder on Sunday.
It will be interesting to see what his role will be in the Hawks’ rotation if Korver keeps struggling and DeShawn Stevenson continues to be on a roll.
Morrow deserves a pass, for now. Let’s not be reactionary after just two games. A veteran like him may be a dud right now and a gem by Friday.
You just never know with shooters like him.