Schroder, Babbitt pace Hawks past Nets
NEW YORK — Luke Babbitt was listed as probable before Saturday’s game with a lower back injury. Over two hours later, he was considered definite — as in someone who the Atlanta Hawks could depend on.
Babbitt showed his dependability by scoring a season-high 20 points as Atlanta beat the Brooklyn Nets 114-102.
Babbitt’s fifth career 20-point game was also an efficient one. He shot 7 of 9, made 4 of 6 3s and did it in 20:44 to lead a second unit, which scored 56 points and helped Atlanta improve to 5-17.
The forward returned Thursday from a three-game absence due to back soreness and produced eight points in 18:28 in a 121-114 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Babbitt was even better against the Nets, getting 11 of his points after halftime. He scored six in a span of 26 seconds late in the third on a three-point play and a 3-pointer to give Atlanta an 81-73 lead and then opened the fourth with another 3-pointer.
Babbitt’s big game helped the Hawks win 24 hours after losing rookie center John Collins to a shoulder injury, two days after big man DeWayne Dedmon was lost to a leg injury. Their absences forced the Hawks to start Miles Plumlee in the middle while relying on players like Babbitt to pitch in.
“He’s a great shooter,” Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. “He got a couple of good looks. His teammates were finding him. He’s locked and loaded, and he’s got a good off the bounce game, a little bit of pump fake.
“He got to the rim, I think he made a great pass to Miles for one of his finishes. So I think he’s just a good all-around player. We’re kind of trying to nurse him back a little bit but he was great today.”
Dennis Schroder led Atlanta with 24 points and shot 11 of 24 in a much better outcome than his last appearance in Brooklyn when he was 5 of 22 and injured his ankle in a 12-point loss on Oct. 22.
DeAndre Bembry added 12 points while rookie Isaiah Taylor scored seven of his 11 in the first quarter when the Hawks took the lead for good. Taurean Prince added 11 as the Hawks produced 54 points in the paint and shot 47.5 percent while getting 12 steals.
“The ball was moving well offensively,” Babbitt said. “I thought we were getting good shots as a team. Dennis, Isaiah, they’re getting in the paint and finding guys. We had a lot of good rhythm offensively.”
Spencer Dinwiddie led the Nets with 15 points, but it was not enough as Brooklyn lost for the sixth time in its last seven home games. Joe Harris added 13, rookie Jarrett Allen added 12 as did Allen Crabbe in his return from a back injury.
“We have to make the plays, whether it’s a road trip, home game, away game or whatever it is,” Dinwiddie said. “We have to come out and bring the juice and get a win.”
The Nets committed 19 turnovers and threatened in each quarter, but each time Atlanta countered quickly. Atlanta appeared it might lose the lead when Allen’s layup cut it to 90-88 with 8:13 remaining.
The Hawks then finished it off with an 18-3 run, getting a Kent Bazemore 3-pointer, a Schroder 14-foot turnaround and Babbitt’s final basket to take a 108-91 lead with 3:54 remaining.
“We couldn’t really guard them,” Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said.
NOTES: Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said the two to three weeks that rookie F/C John Collins (left AC joint sprain) will miss is about what he expected. Collins injured his shoulder during Thursday’s 121-114 loss to Cleveland. ... Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said the sore lower back that caused G Allen Crabbe to miss the previous three games was the product of spasms and not a structural issue. ... G Jeremy Lin announced Friday in an Instagram video that he will rehab his surgically repaired right knee at Fortius Sport & Health in Burnaby, British Columbia. “The Nets and I have decided on a really comprehensive rehab program that will have me out here for most of the season,” Lin said in the video. ... C Miles Plumlee made his first start with Atlanta and 134th in his six-year career. He finished with six points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes. ... Brooklyn F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored nine points in 21:17 after missing the previous two games with a sprained right ankle.