All-Star break: Good, bad, quirky moments of Hawks’ season
From a games-played standpoint, the NBA All-Star Break hardly serves as the league’s official midpoint of a particular season.
And yet, mid-February feels like the perfect "halftime" point for this campaign, essentially giving Adam Silver a high-profile platform to take reign as NBA commissioner, officially succeeding the retired David Stern.
As for the Atlanta Hawks … well, they might have been happier with a break period that occurred two weeks earlier. By and large, though, the club’s 25-26 record warrants more praise than criticism.
After all, way back in September, after Atlanta lost Josh Smith (free agency), Devin Harris (free agency), Zaza Pachulia (free agency), most fans would have assumed the Hawks were bracing for a short-term setback … in hopes of securing a high lottery pick for the 2014 draft.
And that assumption preceded Al Horford succumbing to a season-ending shoulder injury in late December.
**The Hawks are the only NBA team, to date, to partake in three straight overtime games (Dec. 23-28 vs. Miami, Cleveland, Charlotte).
**The highly proficient Kyle Korver has nailed at least one three-pointer in 120 straight games — an NBA record. In fact, Korver eclipsed Dana Barros’s previous mark (89 games) way back on Dec. 6 … or 30 games ago.
**Nov. 15: Jeff Teague rolls for 33 points and 10 assists (both team highs) in the Hawks’ 113-103 win over the 76ers. Teague opened the season with 10 straight games of double-figure scoring … and also six double-doubles in that span.
**From Dec. 13-29, Atlanta rolled for 100-plus points in nine straight games (six wins).
**All-Star forward Paul Millsap has separate four-game streaks of double-doubles — Dec. 20-28 (Utah, Miami, Cleveland, Charlotte) and Feb. 1-8 (Minnesota, Indiana, New Orleans, Memphis).
**From Nov. 30 to Dec. 29, the Hawks notched 100-plus points in 13 of 14 outings.
**The Hawks have three losing streaks of three games or more — including the five-outing slide that has carries over to the All-Star break.
**Hawks’ longest winning streak to date: 3 (Lakers, Kings, Jazz from Dec. 16-20)
Since the NBA-ABA merger (1976-77 season), the Eastern Conference has never produced four playoff teams with below-.500 records at year’s end.
But if the 2014 postseason began today … the Hawks (25-26), Wizards (25-27), Nets (24-27) and Bobcats (23-30) would all gain entry into the East tourney — with the Pistons (22-30), Knicks (20-32), Cavaliers (20-33) and Celtics (19-35) secondarily out of the mix.
(To be fair, the No. 4 and 5 seeds from the 1979-80 season — Rockets and Spurs — posted records of 41-41.)
From the fifth-seeded Hawks’ perspective, it’s the basketball equivalent of being in no-man’s land — the equidistant locale between the viable title contenders and league bottom feeders, with little chance at scoring a high slot in the upcoming draft lottery.
But then again, the club didn’t draft the duo with this season in mind.
There is one interesting hypothetical to consider, though: If GM Danny Ferry had the opportunity, would the Hawks have selected Giannis Antetokounmpo at No. 16 overall, in lieu of Schroder or Nogueira?
Antetokounmpo (No. 15 overall pick), aka the Greek Freak, has the makings of a breakout star (sooner than later) for the cellar-dwelling Milwaukee Bucks (9-43), who are steadily moving toward a top-3 pick in the presumably star-studded June draft.
**How’s this for balance? Of the Hawks’ next 20 games, 10 come against teams with winning records (the other 10 against losing clubs).
**Atlanta embarks on a grueling, multiple-time-zone tour of the country from Feb. 26-March 10, playing six games in 12 nights. The trip moves from Boston, Phoenix and Portland … to Golden State, Los Angeles (Clippers) and Utah.
By the way, Atlanta and Cleveland combined for 36 points in the double-overtime period, falling short of the NBA record in that realm (Mavericks-Rockets — 1995).
2. Miami 121, Atlanta 119 (OT) — Where to begin with this one? The Hawks fell behind 13-0 to start the game, rallied for a 20-point momentum swing and then squandered a seven-point lead in the final 90 seconds of regulation.
In overtime, with Atlanta trailing by one in the waning seconds, Korver (15 points) agonizingly missed a go-ahead jumper from short range. A Chris Andersen rebound/free throw helped Miami escape with an overtime victory before Christmas. (Dec. 23)
3. Atlanta 121, Miami 114 — The Hawks sprinted to a victory over the world champion Heat, as part of Atlanta’s tradition of hosting a game on the national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Jan. 20)
On a night when both clubs shot above 50 percent from the field and notched 70-plus points in the opening half — highlighted by Paul Millsap’s 20 points (8 of 9 shooting) — there were few action lulls to recall.
Atlanta opened with a 7-0 run and seldom eased off the gas pedal from that point forward, rolling for 34 and 37 points in the first and second quarters, respectively.
Miami countered with a 39-point second stanza, with the majority of makes involving Mario Chalmers (nine straight points), Chris Bosh and LeBron James.