Follow the fall into hell of the Atlanta Hawks, an inertia that now seems unstoppable and that is taking ahead what was called to be one of the teams of the season, one of the emerging forces in the NBA. After reaching the East finals against all odds last season, the Georgians did everything they had to do in the summer. They added a few pieces and kept the ones they considered important. They paid what they had to pay. They set out to keep growing. And nothing. After losing in Miami (124-118) they are 17-24. not even in zone play in from the East, three and a half games in fact already from the tenth. A dangerous fight because there are also Celtics, Raptors, Knicks… And they won’t all fit.
After 28 games, the Hawks were 14-14. Bad… but not very bad. They are now 17-24 after a 3-10 in 13. They have traded Cam Reddish and are scouring the market for a big hit (the close on February 10). Miami Heat, who have beaten them twice in three nights, he was 16-12 after the same 28. Now he’s 27-15, one game out of the lead in the East and on a tremendous streak. Despite the accumulation of injuries, having played 25 of 41 away in the first half of the season, with Jimmy Butler back and Bam Adebayo about to return. The Heat are a real threat…the Hawks are a mess. The crisis of the year, the great collapse of the season.
After the 91-115 in Atlanta just 48 hours earlier, things did not start better for the Hawks who lost 30-13 in a first quarter that closed at 40-30. But McMillan’s men reacted: 24-40 in the second quarter after scoring 56 points in 16 minutes. Serious thing in Miami. And they were winning by 10 almost at the end of the third quarter (89-99) when everything started to go wrong: they conceded 5 points in a seconds, a bad omen (94-99) before a last quarter in which they sank, suffocated by the Heat’s defensive pressure: more turnovers (7) than baskets (6), partial 30-19, not a basket in the last 3:13, in which they went from a 114-116 to the final 124-118. In that last quarter Tyler Herro scored 11 of his 24 points for an armored Heat: PJ Tucker (17 points), Butler (23, 10 assists), Strus (16, all in the first quarter), Lowry (13 and 8 assists) , Yurtseven (17+11+4 assists)… A tremendous team that is in the elite of the East. Light years away right now from these Hawks without identity. Trae Young finished with 24 points and 9 assists, Gallinari with 18 points and 5 rebounds, John Collins with 16 points and 5 rebounds, Hunter with 20 points, Huerter with 15… but the Hawks still don’t defend at a decent level and aren’t even capable of closing games when they shine in attack, like this time for many minutes. A horrible year that looks worse and worse. Quite the opposite of some Heat that smell like a crouching beast (every time less) in the East.
HORNETS 109-MAGIC 116
How can it be? The Magic had 10 straight losses, hadn’t won since before Christmas, and the Hornets had five straight wins., a stretch in which they had beaten the Bucks and Sixers. And yet the Magic won in Charlotte, one of those losses that punishes the Hornets a lot, a team literally capable of the best and the worst and that left its rival alive for three quarters and froze in the last, when he should have imposed his hierarchy. The Magic, who have lost many games competing until the end, started the victory thanks to the Wagner brothers, 26 points from Mo and 19 with 6 rebounds and 7 assists from Franz, the youngest and the one with the most experience. In fact and without making much noise, one of the best rookies of the season and a joy (almost the only one) for a team that is now 8-35 and that recovers Jalen Suggs. The number 5 in the draft returned (he had not played since November 29) with 12 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists… and 6 turnovers. For the Hornets, 18 points from Hayward, 29 from Miles Bridges, 23 with 8 assists from LaMelo Ball and 19 from Rozier with a poor 4/15 on triples. A bad day in Carolina.
PISTONS 103-RAPTORS 87
Another surprise in the East. If the Magic beat the Hornets, the Pistons (10-31 now) beat another zone team play in. And they did it extensively. amassing its biggest advantage of the season in the first half (56-43) and with income of 18 points later. The Raptors fell to -9 from which they did not rise any further. An ugly defeat for a team that links two (now 20-19) after chaining six victories, and that is in the fight not to fall out of the knockout zone. Rookie Scottie Barnes returned after going through the COVID protocols (8 points, 4/13 shooting) and Fred VanVleet added 24 points and 10 assists but missed a lot (6/21). Bad day against No. 1 draft pick Cade Cunningham (good: 18 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists) and some surprising Pistons, who are 5-3 in 2022 after closing the last 19 games of 2021 with 1-18. Bey (15 points) and Diallo (18 with 6 rebounds) continue to do well and Lyles (21) were decisive off the bench points, 7 rebounds) and Josh Jackson (13+4).
PACERS 94-SUNS 112
If the two worst teams in the East, the Magic and the Pistons, won, the third from bottom couldn’t join the party. And that he was winning 76-73 in the third quarter, before receiving a 2-23 (78-96) from the best team in the NBA, some Suns who close the exact first half of the season at 32-9, the second best balance in their history at the halfway point of a course. Devin Booker scored 22 points in the third quarter, when the Pacers pushed harder who have nine defeats in ten games (15-28). The shooting guard finished with 35 and 6 triples for the 27 with 12 rebounds from Ayton and the 12 with 9 assists from Chris Paul. Logic prevailed against the production of Domantas Sabonis (14+14+6), Justin Holiday (25 points, 4 assists, 7 triples) and that Caris LeVert (20+5+9) who looks like a transfer to the Cavaliers.
KINGS 126-ROCKETS 114
In the last match of the day, the Kings took advantage of the visit of the Rockets (16 losses in 20 games, 12-32) to add their second straight win. They are tenth in the West, ranked play in despite all their miseries and tomorrow they play again against these impoverished Rockets. What’s more, they showed all the samples that they have for sale in the face of the closing of the market: Marvin Bagley finished with 26 points and 13 rebounds, Fox with 27 points 7 8 assists, Barnes with 16+9+6, Hield with 19+6… Let’s see what moves and what doesn’t until the limit of February 10. The Rockets follow him taking infinite shots to their number 2 in the draft, Jalen Green (11 points, 5/18) and were led by Christian Wood (26 + 8), another who can change the air.