The Hawks make history against the Phoenix Suns
By Jaylon Thompson
The last time the Atlanta Hawks won 57 games, Whitney Houston’s “I will always love you” topped the Billboard 100 music charts in 1993.
Twenty two years have passed since the 1993-1994 Hawks’ team of Mookie Blaylock, Kevin Willis and Danny Manning set the record for franchise wins. After a 96-69 victory over the Phoenix Suns, the 2014 Atlanta Hawks have now surpassed that star-studded team in 1993 and the team in 1987 with 58 franchise victories.
“It’s a nice little moment,” Hawks guard Kyle Korver said. “The Hawks are a great franchise and to be part of the team that has the record, we’ll keep adding to it.”
Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll did his part by leading the way with 16 points and six rebounds. Hawks guard Jeff Teague added 16 points and two assists, while shooting 6-13 from the field.
The Hawks (58-19) secured the victory without All-Star forward Paul Millsap. Millsap was diagnosed with a right shoulder strain after a collision in Saturday’s victory against the Brooklyn Nets. Center Mike Muscala started his fourth career game in his place.
Muscala had 16 points, seven rebounds and four steals. Carroll spoke about his performance after the game.
“I thought he was good,” Carroll said. “He stepped up during this opportunity and worked just as hard as the rest of us. He got his opportunity tonight, with Paul out, and he played big minutes.”
The Hawks took advantage of a depleted Suns team. The Suns were without point guard Brandon Knight and center Alex Len. Knight missed the game with a heel bone bruise and Len had a broken nose. Without both players, the Suns relied on guard TJ Warren and forward Marcus Morris to compete against the Hawks.
Warren had 15 points and Morris had eight points as Phoenix shot 31.3 percent from the field. They were even worse from beyond the three-point line where they shot 20 percent throughout the contest.
At the end of play Tuesday night, the Suns sit behind the New Orleans Pelicans for the eighth spot in the Western Conference Playoffs at 39-39. The loss to the Hawks pushes them one game closer to being eliminated from playoff contention.
“We’ve kind of known that situation since we left Oklahoma City,” Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek said. “We just (need to) go play the next game.”
For the Hawks, the team continues to roll towards the Eastern Conference playoffs. The team is focused on getting healthy and finding a rhythm heading into the final five games of the regular season. With Millsap and point guard Dennis Schroder missing time with injuries, having roster depth has been very important for the team in creating easy opportunities to score.
“We are getting more into a rhythm offensively and defensively as we go into the playoffs,”Hawks assistant coach Charles Lee said.
Eleven of the 13 Hawks got into the game on Tuesday night. The Hawks depth in the frontcourt helped the team out score the Suns 52-32 in the paint. The speed of the guards were able to give the Hawks 20 fast break points as well.
As a result, they were able to keep the ball moving consistently and shut down the Suns defensively for key stretches.It was something Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer valued in the production of his team.
“I thought our defense and our activity-all the little things we talk about-were good,” Budenholzer said. “I was pleased with for the most part with our activity, getting through screens, making it difficult on the passers.”
The Hawks travel to play the Brooklyn Nets in a return game from Saturday Night. This game is the last matchup between the two teams as the Hawks hold a 3-0 series lead. The Suns continue their four game road trip against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night.