Dwight Howard grabbed a rebound and, rather than passing to point guard Dennis Schroder, sent a pass intended for Thabo Sefolosha out of bounds. As Schroder and Howard were arguing — Schroder’s word — Stephen Curry hit a 3-pointer.
Schroder stayed in the game about another minute, missing a 3-pointer, and then was benched for the final 20:41.
“I don’t really know,” Schroder said when asked why he was benched. “I know the 3 from Steph Curry when me and Dwight was arguing was part of it. That can’t happen. I don’t understand coach’s decision. I want to be on the court. Maybe I’m too competitive. I’m just trying to be competitive and win games.”
“We have to figure it out, me and coach,” Schroder said. “I want to talk about it. Dwight’s got to be in there too. Get on the same page.”
This is the peril of a veteran team led by Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard turning over point-guard duties to a 23-year-old Schroder. Schroder was also suspended for reporting late after the All-Star break and brought off the bench for the following game for being late to a team bus.
Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer was trying to teach a lesson, but he left his team disadvantaged against Golden State. Curry’s 3-pointer put the Warriors up, and they led the rest of the way.
Atlanta, which is in prime position to win a playoff series or two, has left itself little choice but to ride out Schroder’s ups and downs — and hope this message sunk in.