By Donnell Suggs | The Atlanta Voice
Ball movement and defense looks to be the Hawks calling card this season and that is exactly what was on display on Monday night as Atlanta defeated Memphis 99-88 on Monday night. The victory brought the Hawks preseason record to 2-2.
Atlanta returned home from the road where they went 1-2 during their first three preseason games of the season — losses to Miami and Detroit and a 109-93 win at Cleveland — rounded out their road swing. Monday’s home opener was held at the Hawks occasional home-away-from-home at McCamish Pavilion, the home of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
Despite being away from Philips Arena, the Hawks looked quite comfy against the new-look Grizzlies —former starters Zach Randolph and Tony Allen have moved on after long runs with the team — before long.
Despite being away from Philips Arena, the Hawks looked quite comfy against the new-look Grizzlies -former starters Zach Randolph and Tony Allen have moved on after long runs with the team- before long.
From the beginning of the game, the Hawks were moving the ball around, keeping the Grizzlies defenders on their toes in regards to who the go-to guy was going to be in Atlanta now that Paul Millsap is in Denver.
On paper, Millsap signing a near-max deal with the Nuggets gave the keys to the Hawks offense to point guard Dennis Schroder as the team’s returning leading scorer.
On the court, on Monday night there were a couple of Hawks driving the car. Forward Mike Muscala led the team in scoring with seven points during the first quarter with reserve guard Malcolm Delaney adding four points. The Grizzlies took a 13-10 lead on a three-pointer by rookie Dillon Brooks before the Hawks went on a 10-6 run to close the quarter. Seven different Hawks players would score during the period.
The Grizzlies took a 13-10 lead on a three-pointer by rookie Dillon Brooks before the Hawks went on a 10-6 run to close the quarter. Seven different Hawks players would score during the period.
The Hawks lead would grow to 10 at halftime behind excellent ball movement.
Second-year forward Taurean Prince, who missed his first three shots of the game, found a rhythm of sorts during the second quarter, converting a layup on a post up over Memphis all-star guard Mike Conley for his first points of the game at the 7:02 mark.
Prince, who will be counted on to contribute more as a scorer this season, would score six during the quarter.
Atlanta’s lead would slim to three points before Schroder scored five unanswered points on a three-pointer and a drive before rookie John Collins would dunk home the final Hawks points of the second quarter to give Atlanta a 51-41 lead at the half.
Atlanta would lead by seven points, 69-62, to start the fourth quarter as second-year player Deandre Bembry chipped in four points and Price added a three-pointer. The Memphis bench would keep the Grizzlies in the game with veteran guard Tyreke Evans scoring on a layup just before time expired.
The bench much deeper this season, the Hawks got contributions from newly acquired reserve forward Luke Babbitt whose three-pointer -his first make of the game- gave Atlanta a 75-66 advantage. Another three-pointer by Muscala at the 7:54 mark put Atlanta ahead by 12.
A Bembry fast-break assist to Collins for a crowd-pleasing dunk kept Atlanta’s lead at 12 points and got the fans in attendance chanting “John Collins” minutes after the rim stopped shaking.
Collins led the team in rebounding for a consecutive game -he grabbed a team-high six in the Oct. 6 loss in Detroit- with eight rebounds. Delaney would also repeat his Detroit performance scoring 15 points off the bench against Memphis. Schroder led all scorers with 21 points on 8-17 shooting while Muscala added 12 points (2-4 from three-point range).
The Hawks outrebounded Memphis 46-40.
In a homecoming of sorts, Atlanta native, St. Francis High School (Milton, Ga.) alumnus and Grizzlies rookie guard Kobi Simmons scored seven points on 3-6 shooting in 12 minutes. James Ennis III lead Memphis in scoring with 14 points.
The Hawks will be back in action at McCamish on Thursday night against the Dallas Mavericks.
Follow Donnell on Twitter @suggswriter.