The Atlanta Hawks lost to the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday evening by a final score of 91-82. This was a rough game for the Hawks, who struggled to score for nearly all of the contest. Since the team was trying to keep pace with the Milwaukee Bucks (who also lost on Sunday) for the fifth seed, this loss is especially painful.
Before the game started, the Hawks got the good news that Paul Millsap would be available for play. Millsap didn’t start the game and played minutes off the bench as part of his recovery. It was clear that he is still not at 100%, but seeing the team’s best player on the court was still encouraging. He totaled 14 points in his 25 minutes.
The Hawks and Nets went back and forth for most of the first half, but Brooklyn carried a 46-43 lead out of the second quarter. Interestingly, there was a large disparity in the three-point shooting. Neither team made a large percentage of these shots, but the Nets attempted 23 compared to just 13 from the Hawks.
The two teams battled for most of the third quarter, but Brooklyn began to pull away slightly. At the end of the period, the Nets lead 70-61. Brooklyn clearly looked like the better team for this quarter, which mirrored how most of the game had gone to that point. This isn’t necessarily terrible — the Nets are a decent team at full health — but being unable to outperform a less talented team is still frustrating for Atlanta.
The Nets stretched their lead to 78-63 with just under nine and a half minutes left in the fourth quarter. Atlanta battled back though, and cut the lead to eight points with a little under six minutes remaining. The Hawks continued to slowly close the gap as the game wore down, and drew within five points with a little over three and a half minutes left. However, Brooklyn ultimately held them off and left with the victory.
Atlanta’s schedule gets much more difficult this week, as the team will play Boston at home and then Cleveland on the road. If Millsap is close to 100%, these games will be a nice chance to gear up for the playoffs. With the season nearly over, every game is crucial right now.