Ten observations from Hawks 126, Kings 80. . .
1. The Hawks beat up on a really bad team to earn their first home victory in five tries. The Kings had the worst average score differential in the league before tonight but the Hawks are in no position to take these kind of performances for granted against any opponent. The Kings are terrible but they own victories over the Thunder and Sixers. The Hawks delivered a professional, spirited performance and won by the largest margin in the franchise’s history in St. Louis and Atlanta.
“They feel good,” coach Mike Budenhozler said of his players. “It’s a good win, but you think about already, ‘Can we keep this going?’ But they feel good about winning in front of the fans, the home crowd.”
2. Tonight, you saw the difference between a team that’s tanking in the sense of starting players who would be bench pieces on a good team (the Hawks), and a team that’s tanking in the sense of having maybe three NBA-caliber players in its rotation and rookies all over the place (the Kings). George Hill is a good player, Willie Cauley-Stein is OK I guess and that’s pretty much it for the Kings (and coach Dave Joerger hasn’t maximized minutes for those two). For some reason, Sacramento signed Hill to three-year deal for $57 million and Zach Randolph for $24 million over two years.
3. Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon has quietly become the team’s most consistent player. He seems to be playing with extra bounce lately and has shown a little swagger at times, something that doesn’t seem to come naturally for the big man. Dedmon keeps taking and making jumpers, too. He might end up being the team’s best trade piece, though his player option for next season might shrink the market somewhat.
4. Dedmon dominated the Kings in the first half with 18 points (8-for-9 field goals), 11 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks. The Kings had 35 points, 14 field goals, 19 rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Did I mention the Kings are terrible?
5. The Hawks had good energy from the start, which isn’t always a given. Of course, it always looks better when the shots go in, and the Hawks made their first eight for an 18-7 lead. Dedmon and Luke Babbitt scored seven points each during that run, and Schroder assisted on three field goals.
Schroder: “Tonight we came out with urgency and made the right passes and found open guys for threes.”
Kent Bazemore: “The defense, pace and the way we were moving the ball tonight is pretty much what we’ve been working on all season.”
6. Babbitt left the game early because of what the Hawks said were back spasms. He started and then went back to the locker room to loosen up after his first stint. He returned to the game briefly before checking out again, and the Hawks announced at halftime that he was finished for the night. Line many Hawks, Babbitt was having a good night: 13 points on seven shots in 11 minutes.
Budenholzer said the training staff told him a few minutes before tip that Babbitt may not be able to play because of tightness in his back. “After that second run, he was just done,” Budenholzer said. “I don’t think it’s anything too serious. I think his back is just tight. From what I understand, it’s pretty impressive that he played the 11 minutes that he did and made some big shots and created space for us early in the game.”
7. Babbitt’s injury happened just as Ersan Ilyasova returned to the active roster and Miles Plumlee went to Erie of the G-League for what Budenholzer said will be a two-game stint. The Hawks just can’t seem to get all of their big men healthy at the same time.
8. Budenholzer said he planned to “ease” Ilyasova back into the rotation. He played just 17 minutes. After Babbitt went to the locker room for good, Tyler Cavanaugh started the second half.
9. And this was in the first half:
10. The hip-hop artist 21 Savage performed at halftime and following the game. I am not too old to appreciate some of his bangers, but the sound mix for his halftime set was awful.
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