The streak is over.
It may not be the most high-profile record in the history of the NBA, but Hawks fans have taken a bit of pride in Kyle Korver's NBA-record streak of consecutive games with a made 3-pointer, and unfortunately, that mark was snapped during Atlanta's 102-78 loss to Portland on Wednesday night. Korver finished the night with just 5 points on 1-for-9 shooting in 28 minutes, and he missed on all five of his 3-point attempts before the blowout margin kept him on the bench for the duration of the final period.
Korver converted a three-pointer in a staggering 127 games, breaking a long-standing mark by Dana Barros (who made a three in 89 straight), and leaving Stephen Curry as the active leader with just 50 consecutive games. It was a historic run by a guy who many (cough, me) consider to be the best shooter in the NBA. Somewhat fittingly, though, the entire Atlanta roster had a miserable night on the offensive end.
The first half represented an instance of everything going wrong on the offensive end, and while it was a "nice" change from all of the defensive woes, it didn't help on the scoreboard. The Hawks shot a putrid 25% from the field (11-for-44) in the half, including just 2-for-14 from beyond the arc, and the shooting percentage represented the lowest in a half this season. 38 points over a 24-minute stretch simply wasn't going to get it done against the Blazers, and the Hawks "earned" every bit of their 18-point deficit.
If there was a turning point (other than the tip-off) in the game, it was a 13-3 spurt from Portland that was capped by a Wesley Matthews three-pointer to give the Blazers a 42-28 with 5:03 left in the 2nd quarter. The Hawks had begun the second quarter with a little spurt of their own (6-0) to slash the lead to just 4 points, but when Portland responded with the binge of their own, they coupled that 13-3 run with a larger 22-8 push to get to an 18-point advantage that all but sealed the final outcome.
There was a bit of a life after the halftime break when the Hawks scored 6 of the first 8 points, but right on cue, the Blazers spurted on an 8-0 run of their own, and when Nic Batum and Damian Lillard connected on back-to-back threes, the lead was 22 and all hope was seemingly lost. From that point on, the Blazers never led by less than 17 points, and to be frank, the final margin could have been much, much worse.
The early struggles were telling from an offensive standpoint, and some of the total numbers were greatly influenced in a negative way. The trio of Korver, DeMarre Carroll and Shelvin Mack combined to shoot just 1-for-16 (not a misprint) in the opening half, and things weren't much better for the game, as Carroll finished 3-11 for 9 points, and Mack ended the night having shot 2-11 for 5 points to combine with Korver's struggles. As a team, the Hawks finished with a dreadful 33% clip from the field (yikes) and things were even worse from deep at 4-for-27 (14.8%) for the game.
Defensively, it wasn't the disaster that many predicted, but at the same time, there were significant issues. The Hawks allowed Portland to build their lead despite LaMarcus Aldridge (the team's best player) beginning the game 0-for-6 from the field and failing to notch a field goal until midway through the 3rd quarter. 3-point shooting was also an issue, especially in the early going, as the Blazers knocked down 7-for-15 from deep in the first half before sustaining that solid success with a total of 13-for-29 from deep. In addition to their 3-point dominance, Blazers forward Nic Batum seemingly grabbed every rebound throughout the night, finishing with 18 on his own and keying a 53-37 advantage for Portland as a team.
The belated return from Pero Antic doubled as the best takeaway from this blowout defeat. The big man from Macedonia had missed the past 17 games as a result of a fractured ankle, but he took the floor for the first time at the 2:45 mark of the 1st quarter, and showed some real flashes. For the game, Antic scored 10 points (on 3 for 5 shooting and 2 for 4 from 3-point land) and grabbed 4 rebounds, but more importantly, he didn't look to be limited in his movement, and that is extremely encouraging as the Hawks proceed for the rest of the trip and the season.
Other than Antic's positive return, Cartier Martin would likely be the runner-up for the "most positive performance" award, strictly based on his second half burst. Martin finished the night with 16 points (on 7 for 14 shooting), 6 rebounds, and 3 steals in just 23 minutes, and he was the single reason why the margin stayed under 30 points during the final moments of the 4th quarter.
This type of woeful shooting night happens every once in a while in the NBA, but the timing is impeccably disastrous for the Hawks. Defense has been the calling card of destruction during this long losing binge (Atlanta has now lost 12 of their last 13), but on a night where the defense was respectable, the offense simply fell apart in a way that no one could have foreseen. The Hawks will be back in action on Friday in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors, and if it seems as if the schedule will break soon, it certainly won't before this upcoming back-to-back against the Warriors and Clippers.
As for Kyle Korver, the last season-and-a-half of production will not soon be forgotten, and with the depth that he placed between himself and the rest of the league with regard to his streak, I don't think anyone will approach that mark for quite some time.