Entering the evening, the big story was the Golden State Warriors and their traveling road show rolling through Atlanta for their annual visit. By the end of the evening, the Atlanta Hawks had a third consecutive loss and a sideshow in the form of Dennis Schröder being benched in a 119-111 defeat.
The Hawks grabbed control from the outset and did not relinquish it for the balance of the first half. Atlanta used a 10-0 run to claim a 14-7 lead and, minutes later, the Hawks extended the advantage to 23-13 on the strength of incredibly efficient offense. From there, the Warriors would rebound to an extent, closing the gap to two with an 8-0 run but Dennis Schröder did his best to keep Golden State at arm’s length.
Schröder scored 19 (!) points in the first quarter, making seven of his nine shots and four of his five attempts from beyond the three-point arc. As a team, the Hawks posted an absurd 159.1 offensive rating in the first period and, while the defense struggled, that was enough for a 42-35 lead.
The second quarter wasn’t quite as kind, even as the Hawks were able to stretch the lead to 13 with an 8-2 run to begin the period. From there, it was a slow bleed, as the Warriors cut things to 66-61 at the break while simultaneously terrifying everyone in the building.
That fear turned out to be justified, as the Warriors showed up in a big way to begin the third quarter. Golden State zoomed to a 16-4 run to take a 77-70 lead and, within moments, they built a double-figure cushion. The home team did not fade away, though, as Tim Hardaway Jr. keyed something of a comeback with 11 third-quarter points to keep the Hawks within striking distance at 94-90 after 36 minutes of game action.
The comeback bid never materialized, though, and the biggest story of the stretch run was the absence of Dennis Schröder. The point guard played the first 3:19 of the second half but, from that point forward, Schröder remained on the bench without any public acknowledgement of injury.
With that as the backdrop, the Warriors quickly extended the lead back to 101-93 with seven straight points and into double-figures on numerous occasions. The final dagger came from Stephen Curry with 3:15 to go, as he knocked down a three to provide the visitors with a 12-point cushion and effectively end any threat of an upset.
Outside of the Schröder saga, the theme of the evening was high-end shotmaking from the Hawks in the first half and the subsequent (and predictable) falloff after the break. Golden State’s offense is, quite obviously, potent and the Hawks did nothing exceptionally well to thwart it. Still, this was not a dreadful performance on the whole but rather a situation in which the better team won despite a brief barrage of offensive firepower from the underdog.
The Hawks will continue this lengthy homestand against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday evening and, in short, that game will bring about very different expectations. Stay tuned.