Ten observations from Nets 110, Hawks 90.
1. The Nets said they were out for payback after losing at home to the Hawks on Saturday in Brooklyn and they got it with a dominating second-half effort. The Hawks were competitive in a loss to Cleveland in their first game without Dewayne Dedmon, and beat the Nets without Dedmon and John Collins, but they finally looked over-matched and short-handed in this one. It was as dispiriting loss for the Hawks after Saturday’s good win. “A lot of credit to Brooklyn, both ends of the court, they took their game up: execution, defense, energy,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We hit a little bit of a wall.”
2. The Hawks led Nets by a point after an up-tempo, defense-optional first half. The Nets took control in the third quarter by exploiting the Hawks’ lack of resistance in the interior. Brooklyn scored 12 of its first 22 points of the second half in the paint while opening a 77-61 lead. The Nets beat the Hawks 19-8 on the boards in third period, including four offensive rebounds for seven second-chance points.
Budenholzer: “It was a really, really highly competitive first half. Both teams were getting into each other, both teams were really getting after it. It seems like we didn’t have the same juice, the same energy in the third quarter and that does carry over to your shooting.”
3. The Hawks missed 19 of 22 shots in the third quarter, including seven of eight 3-pointers. Taurean Prince, Miles Plumlee, Kent Bazemore, Tyler Cavanaugh, Marco Belinelli and Isaiah Taylor combined to go 0-for-12 in the period.
Bazemore: “We put too much pressure on our defense by not getting baskets. We had a couple of possessions in a row where we could have cut into the lead but it was tough to make shots. You’ve got to give them credit. They are a well-coached team. They kind of wore us down at the end.”
4. With Ersan Ilyasova on the bench for 12-plus minutes because of early foul trouble, Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer used some very small lineups: Dennis Schroder, Bazemore, DeAndre’ Bembry, Prince and Tyler Cavanaugh. (Babbitt later replaced Bazemore.) The Hawks played at a fast pace and spread the floor with those alignments, just as Budenholzer wants.
5. However, the Nets finally figured out that the Hawks don’t have much rim protection without Miles Plumlee on the floor. After Caris LeVert took advantage of that lack of resistance (as well as Marco Belinelli’s slow feet) in the first half, Budenholzer summoned Plumlee back into the game.
6. Plumlee went to the bench after playing just three minutes after halftime. He wasn’t effective offensively but his absence made it easier for the Nets to attack the interior again. Budenholzer sent Plumlee back in the game to start the fourth quarter. As much as possible, Budenholzer may have to pick his spots with the super-small lineups, though he said his team’s lack of size wasn’t the main factor in Brooklyn’s third-quarter surge. “I think it was a little bit of pick-and-roll game, a little bit of transition game,” he said. “They were scoring, they were executing. I think it’s more about what they were doing than what they do or don’t have.”
7. Just like in the first game, Schroder (19 points on 17 shots, four assists, one turnover) had little trouble finding space for mid-range jumpers. Unlike that game, Schroder was making them early. Schroder later started holding the ball before driving too deep into the lane. He also missed four of five shots, including all three of his 3-point attempts, in the third quarter. Budenholzer: “He’s having to guard (Spencer) Dinwiddie on pick-and-rolls. I think at just some point it takes its toll. I thought Dennis overall was really good tonight.”
8. Bembry had another good performance. You can see that he’s stronger with the ball and more aggressive than he was when initially returning from injury. And Bembry’s defensive intensity is always high.
9. Isaiah Taylor looks to be a prospect worth keeping around for the Hawks. He can create shots near the basket with his speed, and finishes well over bigs with a soft floater. Taylor’s turnover rate has been high but that can improve with experience.
10. Collins was in good spirits while sitting in the locker room before the game. “I’m trying to learn how to be injured,” he said. “I’m not used to this. I’ve never been out because of injury.” Collins played in all 64 games during his two years at Wake Forest.
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