When the Atlanta Hawks took the floor last night, the team did so without their best shooter Kyle Korver, and it hurt them.
The 33-year-old injured his back during pregame warm-ups while shooting 3-pointers, which forced him to sit out at a bad time for a red-hot Atlanta team. Korver gives the Hawks 12.3 points per game as the starting small forward, and has been a major reason for the five-game winning streak that they had entering the game.
He scored in double-figures in each of the last five games to help the Hawks capture the win. However, without his presence on the court, the New Orleans Pelicans took full advantage. Shelvin Mack did a great job filling in for Korver, but with the sharpshooter unavailable to play, Atlanta struggled shooting the basketball from the 3-point line. The Hawks shot a poor 28.6 percent from beyond the arc, which is not good for a team that relies on the three ball to win games.
However, as much as the Hawks missed Korver for his scoring, his defense was needed last night. Yes, I said his defense. This might come as a shock to some people, but he’s not as bad of a defender as you might think. Korver is notoriously known for being a weak link on defense throughout the course of his career. This season, though, heis averaging 1.1 steals and 3.9 rebounds per game, which are some of the highest averages in those categories for his career.
That kind of production was needed in order to beat the Pelicans. The Hawks only fell 111-105 to New Orleans, and with Korver on the court to help, they could have contained Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans a little better. This is especially true of Evans, who finished with 21 points but would have been matched up with Korver a number of times.
Stopping Davis is a different story. Atlanta had no answer for the young power forward down low as he finished with 34 points and 11 rebounds to lead his team to victory.