The Golden State Warriors were in town on Friday evening and, as you may expect, it felt a lot like a home game for the defending NBA champions at Philips Arena. However, the Atlanta Hawks performed reasonably well and competed throughout the night before finally ceding control in a 114-109 loss.
The Hawks started the evening in positive fashion, with Taurean Prince knocking down two three-pointers to help produce an 8-2 opening lead. From there, the Warriors would quickly respond with an 8-0 run of their own but, for the most part, the Hawks were able to trade blows with the visitors in the first 12 minutes.
In fact, Atlanta shot 60 percent from the floor in the first quarter but, with the league’s best team in town, that was only good enough to hang around to the tune of a two-point deficit. Then, the Warriors took command with ten straight points to open the second quarter and, even with a Kent Bazemore-led response to slash that margin, Golden State was able to take a 12-point advantage into halftime.
In the first half, the Hawks committed 12 turnovers (leading directly to 18 points) and that proved to be problematic, as Atlanta was simply unable to generate stops. Stephen Curry, despite leaving the game briefly with an ankle injury, exploded for 25 points in 18 minutes and the Warriors shot 54 percent from the floor and 47 percent from three before the break.
Golden State kept firing away in the third quarter but, to the Hawks’ credit, Atlanta didn’t fade. Kent Bazemore compiled 24 points in his first 21 minutes of action, including an individual spurt in the third, and the Hawks climbed to within striking distance.
In another helping hand, the Warriors announced that Curry, fresh off utter dominance, would be taking the rest of the evening off with the aforementioned ankle tweak. Then, on cue, Dennis Schroder converted a buzzer-beating three to end the third and the Hawks were within just six points.
However, the team simply didn’t have enough firepower in the end. Atlanta did get within five early in the closing period but, in short order, the Warriors stretched the margin back to double figures, where it stayed for much of the period.
The Hawks would get back to shouting distance in the final minute (with help from Nick Young) and, after Schroder converted three free throws to bring the tally to 111-109 with 19.9 seconds remaining, there was real life. Then, Kevin Durant made only one of two free throws to leave the door open with 18.5 seconds remaining.
On the other end, though, Atlanta turned the ball over, leading to a punctuation dunk from Andre Iguodala and that, as they say, was that.
Kent Bazemore was the story of the night for Atlanta, scoring a career-high 29 points (on 10 of 16 shooting) against his former team. In support, Dennis Schroder (27 points, nine assists) and John Collins (16 points, eight rebounds) put together big nights but, defensively, the Hawks had all kinds of trouble containing their opponent and that proved to be the difference in the end.
The Hawks will return to action for a fourth consecutive home game on Sunday afternoon, as the Phoenix Suns come to town. Stay tuned.