A few thoughts after tonight’s 96-87 loss to the Spurs:
- Happy birthday Mike Scott! As we closed in on July 16 on the east coast, Scott was playing as though his birthday started two hours earlier. He scored a Hawks Summer League-high 27 points on 7-17 shooting and went a perfect 13-13 from the free throw line. What I liked most was that he limited his outside jumpers and played more physical inside, drawing fouls against San Antonio big men Dexter Pittman and Aron Baynes.
- Jared Cunningham got his first start of the week and did nicely. Coming over in a draft trade from Dallas, Cunningham brings NBA experience that few guys on the roster have. He looked confident tonight, scoring 12 points and getting to the free throw line seven times.
- Speaking of free throws, I wasn't sure for a while that I was watching the same team tonight. As a team, Atlanta shot 32-36 from the stripe, which is good for a few reasons. First, the 89 percent is a drastic improvement over games one and two, when they went a combined 15-30. And second, the number of attempts speaks to the aggressive nature of the offense. Getting to the line 36 times in a Summer League game isn't easy, but the Hawks used free throws to hang around on a night where they shot just 38 percent from the field.
- Quin Snyder shortened the bench tonight, using essentially an eight-man rotation. Not sure if that was to give the guys who did play some extended minutes or if the Hawks really wanted that first-round bye badly enough to go for the win. We'll see whether he stays with it for bracket play or if others will see some time.
- One disappointing note was the defense. Giving up 96 points in a 40-minute game is alarming in itself, but the way San Antonio scored may have been more troublesome. After doing such a great job to contest shots, force turnovers and keep Miami out of the lane last night, Atlanta reverted back to some of the mistakes they made against Los Angeles earlier in the week. They left shooters open on the wing, and the interior defense was almost nonexistent. We'll see if the guys can make adjustments again.
- With the loss and Chicago's win, the Hawks are assured of playing in a play-in game Wednesday. They scored six points of a possible 12, which will be used to break ties among all 1-2 teams. The time and opponent will be determined after Tuesday's action.