Well, that was a disaster.
The Atlanta Hawks entered Saturday on a 10-game losing streak at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs, and this was not the night to snap such a skid. After the worst offensive first half in the recent history of the franchise, the Hawks fell into a massive hole that could not be eliminated, and the Spurs cruised to a 103-78 victory.
With regard to that first half, the numbers were staggering. The Hawks did not convert a field goal until the 8:07 mark of the first quarter, and as a team, Atlanta shot just 26% in the opening period despite a "flurry" of four consecutive points to end the quarter. It was the second-lowest point total (13 points) in a quarter this season and, hilariously, that mark would only hold for a matter of moments.
The second quarter was worse, with Atlanta tallying only 12 (!!!) points on 4 of 18 shooting, and the first half totals were of a comical nature. The 37-point output in the first 24 minutes represented the season-low for the team by a 12-point margin, and the Hawks made just 24% of their shots and 11% of their three-point attempts. To make matters worse, these weren't just run-of-the-mill misses, as the team misfired on 11 (yes, eleven) shots from within three feet in the half, and nothing went right on that end of the floor.
To be honest, the Hawks were fortunate to emerge from the half with only a 22-point deficit. The Spurs committed 12 first-half turnovers and were not firing on all cylinders offensively, but that goodwill quickly evaporated after the break, even as Atlanta's offense improved to some degree.
Atlanta did improve the offense in the third quarter... but it came at expense of the defense. The Hawks played to a virtual draw with only a 32-30 deficit in the period, but Atlanta's 60% shooting mark could not help the team eliminate any part of the deficit, even as Paul Millsap put up 17 points. By the time the fourth quarter began, the result was all but academic.
Mike Budenholzer pulled the starting lineup to begin the final period and, on cue, the bench actually put together a run. The Hawks closed to an 81-64 margin on a Tiago Splitter tip-in with 10:01 left, and that deficit would shrink to only 16 points at one time in the fourth quarter. There was no miraculous comeback in the works, though, as the Spurs immediately put the game away and the bench mobs from both teams finished out the 103-78 final.
Though the Spurs have owned the Hawks for a long time, this performance went well beyond that. It was a putrid night for the great majority of the team, highlighted by a 2-for-15 combined shooting night from Jeff Teague and Dennis Schröder and a 49-33 rebounding disadvantage on the whole. There were many issues on this night, with only Paul Millsap (22 points, 9-13 FG in 25 minutes) as anything approaching a bright spot.
In the end, this is simply one loss on an 82-game schedule, but no one enjoyed the first half of this game unless they held a rooting interest in the Spurs. The Hawks will move forward with a home game against the Miami Heat on Monday, but at 14-11, the natives appear to be getting a bit restless.