The Atlanta Hawks couldn't stop the bleeding Monday night in a 102-92 loss to the Golden State Warriors, but hopefully found some things they can build on going forward. The margin for error against a team like the Warriors is nil and Atlanta made enough mistakes early that it looked like they might be blown out of the building before the night was finished. Atlanta fought back and showed some resiliency but just wasn't good enough to pull off the upset.
"I think our guys competed," Mike Budenholzer said following the game. "They got after it defensively. I think we made it as difficult as you can in a lot of situations. If we could've maybe played a little better out of the gate in the first quarter....I think we had some good opportunities, some good shots."
Atlanta fell behind by as many as 19 points in the first half before going on a huge run throughout the third quarter. The Hawks outscored the Warriors 36-18 in the third and shot 59 percent from the field and limited themselves to just three turnovers.
"Against a good team, you have to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible," Budenholzer said. We were in a little hole in the first quarter. We were able to fight our way back. The third quarter is something we can hopefully build off of. Overall I thought our defensive activity was good. I thought Al, his activity everywhere in general, was great. I thought our point guard play was great. Obviously, a tough spot, but some positives to build off of tonight."
Horford looked engaged from the start and finished with 23 points, 16 rebounds and six assists. He helped spark Atlanta's comeback scoring eight of his 23 points in the third quarter.
The Hawks found their defensive footing in the third quarter and as is usually the case, that jumpstarted the offense. Atlanta limited Golden State to just 32 percent shooting in the frame including a 1 for 11 showing from three-point range.
"This probably sounds simplistic, but good defense and offense," Budenholzer replied when asked about the third quarter run. "It seemed like we had both ends of the court working. I think maybe the defense was helping fuel....it felt like we were getting out in the open court and maybe finding some situations where maybe they were mismatched or we were attacking a non-set defense. When they're set defensively, they're pretty effective. We held them to 18 and we were able to get out in transition and play with more pace and more of an aggressive mindset."
Unfortunately for Atlanta, the Warriors more than handled the Hawks in the other three-quarters of the game. The Hawks pushed ahead and took a four-point lead early in the fourth quarter only to watch Golden State finish the game with a 26-12 run to cruise home for the win.
Turnovers have plagued Atlanta off an on throughout the season and you simply can't give a team like the Warriors extra opportunities. The Hawks finished with 18 in Monday's game which led to 27 points for Golden State. Atlanta only turned the ball over seven times in the second half but the Warriors turned those opportunities into 15 points.
"Looking at the stat sheet, the turnovers....we had 18 for 27 points," Budenholzer said. "When you turn it over, sometimes it's hard on your transition defense. On a missed shot, you have lots of principles and a lot of things you work on to get back in transition."
The Hawks have now lost three straight games and five of their last six overall. It has been a tough stretch for sure, but there were some positives to take from Monday's loss and hopefully build on over three straight off days.
"A loss is a loss, but we'll take what we can from it," Paul Millsap said following the game. "We definitely competed tonight. That's how we have to compete every game."
Thabo Sefolosha echoed that sentiment a short time later.
"A loss is a loss," Sefolosha said. "Every time we lose, we do try to take something out of it that's positive and build on it. We have to do the same thing tomorrow coming into practice - taking what we did well, what we didn't do well and keep building."
The Hawks know what they need to do. Now it is up to them to get it done.
Schroder continues string of good performances
Dennis Schroder finished with 18 points and six assists in 18 minutes off the Hawks bench in Monday's loss and continued a run of strong performances. Schroder is averaging 16.6 points per game over his last five outings.
Schroder has struggled with decision making in the past but he appears to be growing more confident and his defensive ability has played well for the Hawks this season. More and more, he is showing that he is capable of leading the team and will give the Hawks something to think about this offseason.
Aggressive Al Horford is the best Al Horford
I don't know if Al Horford read Jason Walker's article from yesterday but he showed more aggressiveness and emotion in Monday's loss. It is no coincidence that the results were one of his best performances in some time.
Horford got himself involved early and the Hawks need that especially with Paul Millsap struggling a bit coming out of the All-Star break. Horford is averaging 12.9 field goal attempts per game on the season but took 20 against the Warriors. Not only was he aggressive in looking for his shot, but he attacked the paint with half of his attempts coming at the rim.
As wonderful as Paul Millsap has been for three seasons, Horford is still the key for this team and these last 25 games could be a referendum on his value to the franchise.