The Atlanta Hawks were in a serious funk. The NBA team, which won 60 games in 2015, appeared to be a completely different squad during a three-game losing streak following the NBA All-Star game.
The Hawks were lethargic against the Miami Heat. Then, grew tired after starting strong while facing the Milwaukee Bucks and ultimately put up a fight against the Golden State Warriors before losing their lead in the fourth quarter. The sharp shooting, stifling defense, and perfect passing that kept the team at the top of the Eastern Conference was missing and a change needed to occur quickly.
A matchup against a Chicago Bulls team without Derrick Rose or Jimmy Butler appeared to be a remedy for the struggling Hawks. While in front of a sellout crowd at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, the Hawks compiled 9 assists in the first quarter to take a 5 point lead. The Hawks never looked back.
They finished the game with 28 assists and scored 27 points by forcing 21 turnovers. But one of the biggest keys to the Hawks’ success was the return of an aggressive Jeff Teague. The former All-Star point guard had poor showings during the team’s losing streak and watched from the bench as back-up Dennis Schroder finished games against the Bucks and Warriors.
But against the Bulls, Tegaue led the team in scoring with 19 points, 9 assists, and added 2 steals. Al Horford continued to be the most consistent Hawk by scoring 18 points and adding 5 rebounds. Milsap struggled from the field (3-12), but he did work on the boards by grabbing 13 rebounds.
The Hawks eventually won by a score of 103-88. It was a much needed victory for a team that seeks to find a rhythm before the playoffs. After Sunday’s matchup against the Charlotte Hornets, the Hawks will spend one week out West to face the Warriors, Lakers, Clippers, and Jazz.