Atlanta Hawks

Schroder helps Hawks end seven-game skid

Photo/Zach Shugan

Between the Atlanta Hawks (37-36) and the Phoenix Suns (22-52), the two teams had combined for a 15-game losing streak entering tonight’s matchup.

Led by Dennis Schroder’s 27 points, the Hawks were able to snap their seven-game losing streak and find themselves back in the win column, knocking off the Suns 95-91, extending the Suns’ losing streak to nine.

The last time the Suns found themselves in the win column was March 11, thanks to a Devin Booker game-winning shot with 0:01 left on the clock.

During the Hawk’s seven-game skid, they gave up at least 103 points in every game.

The Hawks came out roaring thanks to Schroder’s 13 first quarter points, on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor, helping the Hawks pullout to an early 27-12 lead.

Outside of Schroder, neither team came out strong in terms of shooting, the Hawks shot a mere 42.5 percent from the field and 18.2 percent from deep, while the Suns could only connect on a gloomy 32.7 percent of field goals and 27.8 percent from deep.

With nothing working for them offensively, the Suns managed to put together an impressive defensive stand to close out the half, helping them reduce the gap to three, trailing the Hawks 47-44.

Seems like both coaches gave their teams similar halftime speeches – attack the rim – and just over six minutes into the half and the two teams had combined for five dunks, three from Dwight Howard and two from Alex Len.

Derrick Jones Jr. decided to join the party with an emphatic dunk of his own, closing the gap to two, 63-61 with 3:59 left in the third.

The Suns picked up their first lead of the night with 10:37 left in the game, after Alan Williams laid one in for them.

However, Schroder was not ready to give up on a game he had played so well in, and with just over seven minutes left in regulation Schroder knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers, sparking a 17-1 Hawks run.

With the game on the line, Schroder put up a game-high eight points in the fourth quarter.

The message was clear tonight for both teams, go out and do whatever it takes to get a win.

“Biggest thing we talked about all day today and even yesterday when we had practice, was competing,” Atlanta Hawks Assistant Coach Charles Lee, said.

Both teams have been dealing with their fair share of injuries as the Hawks have been without All-Star Paul Millsap, Kent Bazemore, and Thabo Sefolosha.

The Hawks (38-36) haven’t been the same since Millsap was forced to exit early, March 16, against the Grizzlies. Without Millsap, they have a 1-6 record, including tonight.

The Suns (22-53), eliminated from the playoffs, have been without starters Tyson Chandler and Eric Bledsoe, who were both shutdown for the remainder of the season by Head Coach Earl Watson. Additionally, the Suns were without Devin Booker tonight, who was a late scratch with an ankle injury.

Booker’s absence comes just two games after he put up a career-high 70 points, on the road, against the Celtics.

With injury comes opportunity for the next man up and for the Hawks that man has been Taurean Prince.

Tonight, the rookie out of Baylor, Prince picked up his second-straight start. With 15 points tonight, Prince notched his first back-to-back double-digit games.

During this losing streak the Hawks feel like they have had a hard time controlling the ball, according to Lee. Despite the win, ball control was once again an issue for the Hawks who finished with 19 turnovers.

“We just need to stay focused on developing the right habits going into the playoffs,” Lee said. “And those habits are just playing hard on every possession, every possession really does matter.”