Atlanta's improved defense has been the biggest factor in the team's ascension to the top of the Eastern Conference standings. The Hawks helped force 20 Washington turnovers on Sunday and turned them into 31 points. Their defense is fueling their highly efficient offense and the result has been an almost unbelievable streak of 22 wins in their 24 games.
"The message and the mantra that we've been talking about is our activity and our hands and our defense and creating turnovers," said Mike Budenholzer following the game. "If we can do that in a solid active way, it's important to us."
Washington ended up shooting 47 percent from the field but Atlanta attempted 23 more shot attempts thanks to the turnovers. The Hawks held Washington to just 5-20 shooting from three-point range which is way below their season average. Atlanta on the other hand bombed away from the outside knocking down 16-31 in the rout.
"Again, the activity and the defense is what we are continuing to talk about and work on," said Budenholzer. "That was great. Offensively, the turnovers and the activity can fuel our offense with the ball moving, guys attacking, playing with a lot of confidence. The bench was good. Thirty-four assists, the ball moving, playing unselfishly. The crowd at home has been great. I think it has helped us with our defense. We just want to keep moving forward and not let up on the defensive end of the court."
Unselfishness pays dividends offensively
The Atlanta Hawks racked up 34 assists on 42 made baskets on Sunday and scored 120 points despite not having a single player finish with at least 20. Kyle Korver led the way with 19 points while going 6-8 from the field and 5-7 from three-point range.
Eight different Hawks players scored in double figures and Thabo Sefolosha finished with nine. Shelvin Mack was the only Atlanta player to go scoreless in the game but he came in and got two assists in his four minutes of garbage time.
Atlanta's bench steps up again
Atlanta got another big performance out of its bench in Sunday's win. Pero Antic and Thabo Sefolosha have been keys to the Hawks' defensive efforts all season but are starting to contribute on the offensive end of the floor as well. Antic finished with 12 points and five rebounds on Sunday and has scored in double figures in each of his last four games.
Sefolosha finished with nine points, eight rebounds and two assists against the Wizards. After struggling to find his three-point shot in the early part of the season, Sefolosha is shooting 53.8 percent from long range during Atlanta's eight game winning streak.