By Adesina O. Koiki
ATLANTA – For the first half of the third quarter against Brooklyn, almost nothing went right for the Atlanta Hawks. So much so that nothing went through the hoop, allowing a close game to turn into a laugher.
The Hawks were held without a point for the first 5:43 of the third quarter as the Nets got revenge from Saturday’s loss in Brooklyn against Atlanta with a 110-90 victory at Philips Arena on Monday night.
Atlanta went into halftime holding a 54-53 lead, but Brooklyn opened the third quarter on a 17-0 run that all but ended the competitive nature of the game.
“Obviously, the game changed in the third quarter,” said Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer. “A lot of credit to Brooklyn. Both ends of the court, they took their game up: execution, defense, and energy. We hit a little bit of a wall.”
No matter if it was a long-range shot or a drive to the basket, almost everything Atlanta put up in the third frame either found the rim, came up ‘nothing but air’, or was rejected by the hands of a Nets player, as Atlanta made only three of its 22 field-goal attempts in the quarter.
In the meantime, Brooklyn continued to push the tempo and was able to create easy scoring opportunities, mostly on pick-and-roll plays and alley-oop passes that resulted in a number of thunderous dunks by Nets rookie center Jarrett Allen.
“We got some stops first, and did a much better job of keeping [Atlanta] in front of us,” said Brooklyn head coach Kenny Atkinson. “First half, they were driving on us. They were at the rim all the time. I thought we just limited their drives [in the second half]. We kept them in front and we rebounded and we got out and ran. That’s when we’re at our best.”
Atlanta’s success offensively in the first half did come as a result of penetration, particularly the drives to the basket by guard Dennis Schröder. On his way to 17 first-half points, Schröder made each of his first seven shot attempts from the floor.
But like the rest of his team, Schröder cooled off significantly, only hitting two of his final 10 shots.
“They made shots, we didn’t,” said Kent Bazemore, Schröder’s backcourt partner who scored 13 points on Monday. “”We put too much pressure on our defense by not getting baskets.”
Six different players scored in double figures for the Nets, led by Caris LeVert’s 17 points off the bench. Former Atlanta Hawk DeMarre Carroll chipped in with 13 points, eight rebounds and four assists.