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Despite loss to Thunder, Hawks clinch Southeast Division

The Atlanta Hawks fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder Friday night but clinched the Southeast Division by virtue of Washington's loss in Los Angeles.

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Division championships mean little in the grand scheme of things in the NBA but its significant considering its been 20 years since the Hawks last claimed a division crown. Despite losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder Friday night, the Atlanta Hawks clinched the southeast division thanks to a loss by the Washington Wizards in Los Angeles. It is the first division crown for Atlanta since the 93-94 season.

Its been a foregone conclusion for a while now that Atlanta would win the southeast. They lead the Wizards by 13 games despite being picked to finish anywhere from second to fourth during the preseason. Atlanta's magic number to clinch the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference remains at three games over the Cavaliers. The Hawks currently hold a nine game lead over Cleveland with 13 games left to play.

Hawks looking to get their defensive mojo back

The Hawks have given up 123 points to the Thunder and 114 points to the Warriors in their last two games. They allowed their opponents to score at least 103 points in five of their last seven games. That is certainly trending in the wrong direction and Friday's defensive effort could have been rock bottom for Atlanta.

Oklahoma City shot 51 percent for the game and knocked down 13 three pointers in the process. They were 24 of 26 from the free throw line with Russell Westbrook going 17 of 17 by himself. Perhaps the most alarming stat was 54 points in the paint scored by the Thunder.

The Hawks' rotations were a step slow at the rim all night and the guards offered little resistance on the perimeter. Westbrook is one of the best one-man fast breaks in the league but the Hawks simply didn't do a good job of making things tough for him. Atlanta allowed 34 points in the first quarter and 33 points in the fourth. That isn't going to get it done on most nights and it cost the Hawks on Friday.

Pero Antic finds his groove against Thunder

It was a long time coming but Pero Antic finally shook out of his second half slump to finish with a career-high 22 points on 6-9 shooting. Pero knocked down 4-6 three-point attempts and was 6-7 from the free throw line. Antic's four made three-pointers on Friday equaled his total from the last eight games combined.

After shooting a season-best 33 percent from three-point range in January, Antic fell off the cliff in February converting just 13 percent for the month.

The Hawks won't be able to count on Antic for a significant offensive contribution on a nightly basis but it would be a huge boost if he could regain his shot from the first half of the season.

Teague slumping since All-Star Break

Jeff Teague finished with 11 points and three assists in Friday's game but was just 3-11 from the field and just looks like he could use a couple of days off to get his legs back. While he hasn't been necessarily bad for a significant stretch, his game has fallen off since the All-Star break.

In 50 games before the break, Teague averaged 17.0 points and 7.5 assists on 47 percent shooting. In 13 games since he is at 14 points per game and 5.2 assists. He shooting percentage is down to 43 percent while his turnovers are up.

During Atlanta's big run to the top of the standings, Teague was the catalyst carrying the team with his penetration and his passing. He is the engine and he isn't quite hitting on all cylinders currently.