Taurean Prince led the Hawks in scoring with 22 points while Kent Bazemore added 18 points against his former team.
For the Warriors, who were without Stephen Curry and the suspended Draymond Green, Kevin Durant led the way with 29 points while Klay Thompson added 24 points to help carry the Warriors to victory.
Let’s get into this one, as it was certainly an interesting game for the Hawks...
Atlanta, as they have done often this season, played a solid first half in what was a back and forth affair with the defending champions. The Hawks enjoyed spells where they led the game, even in the third quarter. But it was not meant to be as the Hawks, again, conceded another major run in the third quarter that they simply couldn’t recover from.
Trailing the Hawks 58-53 with 9:35 remaining in the third, the Warriors then reeled off a 17-2 run to take a 10 point lead that ensured the Hawks never re-took the lead again. The Warriors would take a 15 point lead in the fourth quarter that the Hawks cut to five points but the more defining run came in the third quarter with that 17-2 run that gave the Warriors their first double-digit lead of the night and, finally, the separation they needed.
So, let’s take a quick look at that run.
Quinn Cook got it started as he easily drives by Trae Young but the degree of his finish over Alex Len proved much more difficult:
Immediately after this, Young heads down the other end, ends up turning the ball over rather easily and as Klay Thompson bears down on the rim he’s wrapped up by Alex Len pretty hard and commits a Flagrant 1 foul, resulting in two free throws for the Warriors and the possession of the ball:
After those free throws, the Warriors score another two through Kevin Durant, who is unfazed by a late double and contest:
I mean, not a ton you can do in that situation — one of those reminders of just how good Kevin Durant is.
After the Hawks get a dunk with Kent Bazemore after a jump-ball, the threes began to go down for Golden State in this run, starting with Klay Thompson:
I don’t think it’s unfair to put some blame on Young here, who gets attracted to where the ball is when he has no chance of recovering it instead of tracking Quinn Cook after the miss. Can’t really blame Omari Spellman (as bad as he was last night), he’s basically asked to cover three players on this possession — Jerebko, Cook and Thompson.
After a poor shot from Prince, former Hawk Cook was next to convert from the outside as Thompson draws Prince away from Cook on the drive with Bazemore defending:
Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce called for a timeout after this shot as his side continue to fall behind having led by five.
Following this was a few poor trips down the floor for the Hawks, starting with this interesting, step-back, one-legged shot by Vince Carter:
Followed by a 24-second shot-clock violation after a mean block by Damian Jones:
The Warriors then execute a simple action involving Thompson and Jerebko, with the Hawks — fairly — focusing on Thompson, leaving Jerebko open for three after the find by Thompson:
And to wrap it all up, a miss from Spellman leads to the Warriors breaking, Durant breaking down the defense and finding the trailer Jones for the dunk to cap off the run and force Lloyd Pierce into another timeout:
Again, a 10-point hole certainly wasn’t the biggest hole the Hawks found themselves in last night but this was they key run of the night — the Hawks never recovered from this and wouldn’t lead again.
A familiar tale for the Hawks then — another slip in the third quarter that has a significant impact on the game.
“Third quarter has kind of been our Achilles heel this season,” said guard Kent Bazemore postgame. “Just trying to figure out a way to come out and throw the first punch...”
A shame, also, that Trae Young struggled — 2-of-12 for Young but did dish out nine assists with three steals also to his name. As is the case when he struggles shooting the ball, Young is able to still bring something to the table with his playmaking, which is really important when that shot isn’t going down.
Elsewhere, the bench enjoyed a productive night (certainly, more productive than the Warriors’ bench if nothing else), outscoring the Warriors’ bench 45-23. Three players tallied double-digit scoring — Vince Carter hit three threes on his way to 11 points, Jeremy Lin hit some shots in the fourth quarter as he scored 10 points and DeAndre’ Bembry tied his career-high of 13 points, hitting two three-pointers. While he didn’t score 10 points, Alex Poythress also enjoyed a good performance.
The move would receive some backlash (as well as even the thought of it from me) but I would not mind at all seeing Poythress (or at least in the rotation at the very least when Dewayne Dedmon — out again last night awaiting the birth of his child — returns) replace Omari Spellman in the starting lineup/Miles Plumlee in the rotation as John Collins continues to rehab. Spellman, effectively, added nothing last night and Poythress has shown flashes of being a solid defender and had some more good moments last night, even if he doesn’t ‘stretch’ the floor as much as Spellman. We don’t need to talk about Spellman defensively...it’s just not worth it.
In addition to bench production, another aspect of this game the Hawks significantly outperformed the Warriors was fastbreak scoring — 22-5 in favor of the Hawks. There seemed to be a great emphasis on pushing the pace when the Warriors missed a shot or committed a live-ball turnover and the Hawks scored off of a number of situations like this.
On the other side, the Hawks — despite committing 14 turnovers (a good night in terms of turnovers, considering how bad it’s been at times this season) — held the Warriors to just five fastbreak points.
“I thought the one thing our guys did a great job (with), they only had five fastbreak points,” said Pierce postgame. “When you’re playing a Golden State team and you limit them in the open floor, you give yourself multiple opportunities...”
Overall, this is not a bad loss for the Hawks. Yes, things would obviously be different if Curry and Green played but there’s still two All-Stars in Durant and Thompson to navigate — the Hawks played well and could’ve made things interesting late-on had they cut it to three but alas...
The Hawks (3-11) are back in action on Thursday night when they’ll travel to the Mile High City to face the Denver Nuggets.
Should be fun.