After a three-game road-trip — and an awful weekend in Indiana and Houston — the Atlanta Hawks entered State Farm Arena on Monday night knowing that the opportunity to end their 10-game losing streak was a strong possibility as they squared off against the Golden State Warriors.
Though the Hawks trailed early, they eventually eased to a 104-79 victory behind strong second and third quarters where they outscored the Warriors 29-17 and 27-13 respectively.
If you missed the game and want to see how it unfolded, again, I recommend you do so right here...
It says something about the opponent when the Hawks — who were on a 10-game losing streak — were favored by 6.5 points heading into the game, that doesn’t happen often but such was the story last night.
We know the Hawks are short-handed — no John Collins, no Kevin Huerter, no Allen Crabbe last night (out with the flu) and while Cam Reddish did return, DeAndre’ Bembry started the game.
However, the Warriors are even more short-handed — no Stephen Curry, no Klay Thompson, no Draymond Green, no D’Angelo Russell, no Damion Lee, no Jacob Evans. The Warriors started with Alec Burks at point guard, essentially, and Kevon Looney made his long-awaited return to action in Atlanta last night and would’ve obviously played with a little rust (especially Cauley-Stein, who was in foul trouble all night long). Oh yes, and the Warriors were coming off of a game the previous night in Orlando.
It was a game where, if the Hawks didn’t win this one, when exactly would they win again?
I don’t want to take away from the Hawks, who played hard last night and played much better than they did in Houston (they weren’t amazing in this game, not exactly hard to beat the Houston game) but, at least in some ways, the 25-point margin was more about the Warriors than it was the Hawks. It’s about the Warriors’ short-handedness, it’s about their inability to score, it’s about their inability to take care of the ball. That isn’t to say there weren’t things the Hawks didn’t do well, it’s just that the blowout nature was more about what Golden State couldn’t do and the Hawks benefiting from that by taking advantage.
In the past, Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce has talked about ‘separation’ — whether it’s about gaining separation (not a lot of that recently) or the opposition establishing separation.
There were two periods of this game where the Hawks established their separation and it came, as you would imagine, in those second and third quarters.
Starting in the second quarter, the Hawks hadn’t made a three-pointer while the Warriors had made two and it was one of the reasons the Warriors were ahead in the early going as Atlanta missed its first seven three-point attempts.
Trae Young put that to an end in some style with a deep three, one that State Farm Arena has become accustomed to:
While this three didn’t get the Hawks the separation (Golden State recovered from this), it was a flurry of threes to end the second quarter where the Hawks began to stretch away.
It started with Vince Carter, who is found by Evan Turner as the Hawks move the ball around:
After some missed shots by Golden State and a split pair of free throws from the returning Reddish, Damian Jones grabs the offensive rebound off of Reddish’s miss and finds Young who hits his second three of the quarter:
After a battle on the other end that resulted in former Hawk Omari Spellman drawing and making two free throws, the Hawks — leading by six points — come the other way and they hit another three, this time courtesy of De’Andre Hunter as Young drives inside, finds Turner near the rim and Turner spots the open Hunter:
Three of Hunter’s 13 points in the first half as the rookie wing enjoyed a bounce-back after a tough outing in Houston.
A pair of free throws from Young put the Hawks up by 11 before Eric Paschall cut the lead to nine points heading into the break — which is just enough to the point where a Hawks run to begin the third begins to tip this one in the Hawks’ favor.
And sure enough...
The Hawks began the third quarter with a 12-4 run but the main story of the third quarter was the Warriors’ turnovers — 10 of them coming in the third quarter and the Hawks scored 13 points off of those turnovers in the third quarter alone and 25 on the game as the Warriors totaled 25 turnovers.
Here, Hunter is credited for the steal and streaks in the other direction, finishing with the dunk:
Off of a miss, the Warriors initially grab the rebound but Bembry knocks it away and the Hawks go down the other end and Young drives inside and hits the floater in the lane:
In transition, the Warriors turn the ball over in the corner — Reddish does well to get a hand in to disrupt this play — and the Hawks come the other way with Evan Turner, who goes solo and hits the shot over Spellman:
To cap it all off, the Hawks come again off of a turnover as Marquese Chriss’ pass falling out of bounds is picked off and Tyrone Wallace looks as though he’s taking it to the rim but passes to Reddish, who does well to spot the open finds Carter for the dagger to put the Hawks up by 23 points:
With the Warriors coughing it up so often in the third quarter, as well as their offense just struggling, they failed to score in the last 4:21 of the third quarter as the Hawks ran away in the third quarter. From there, the fourth quarter was a formality as the Hawks finally got on the right side of a win, conceding exactly half the amount of points the Rockets had scored on Saturday night. 79 points conceded on the game was also less than the Rockets scored on the Hawks in the first half...
It not only broke the Hawks’ 10-game losing streak but it also marked the Hawks’ first victory against the Warriors in nine attempts and a four-game losing streak in Atlanta against the Warriors. The last Hawks victory against the Warriors? Yep, you guessed it: February 6th 2015, the classic matchup between the league’s best two regular season teams — that was the last time the Hawks beat the Warriors.
A very different story now obviously but a means to an end as the Hawks broke their streak, and with it a weight has been lifted.
“It wasn’t pretty but we’ll take it,” opened Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce postgame. “It feels better coming in here than the last 10 games.”
Especially after that Carter three to put the Hawks up by 23 in the third quarter, the bench was up and everyone was smiling, knowing a win was surely incoming.
“Just, you know, fun,” said Pierce as to the mood in the locker-room postgame. “The guys are in there. They’re fun, they’re excited, they’re happy. It’s a different spirit, you know. Our last time out in Houston wasn’t a whole lot of fun. It was good - the guys are in there cracking jokes on Cam (Reddish) for missing the dunk, laughing at De’Andre (Hunter) because he was in pain when he jammed his fingers, just stuff like that. Normal stuff, and it’s good to see our guys feel and act normal after a game.”
The victory marks the Hawks’ first since November 12th when they stole a game in Denver — it’s been a long time coming but still sitting at 5-16, it’s not where the Hawks want to be.
“It feels good, obviously,” said Young postgame on the victory. “We haven’t won in a long time, which isn’t a good feeling. Anytime you can get a win, it feels good. We’re all happy, but we have a long way to go. We’re not satisfied. We have to continue to get better.”
There were a few instances during that streak where the Hawks had been knocking on the door but to get on the other side brought joy.
“It’s a great feeling, obviously, to be in the win column, to share the ball, to play well, to taste victory for a change,” said Carter postgame. “We had been so close. Regardless of the team we were playing, it didn’t matter. We had some games where gave ourselves an opportunity, and some games where we didn’t. To be able to put together four quarters is a great feeling and a great building block. We still have some things that we didn’t do well. We were able to look past it and continue to play, and that’s probably the most important thing right now.”
It also marked a day where Hunter turned 22 years old and a win was the birthday present he wanted.
“It feels great. It’s my birthday, and that just makes it a little bit better,” said Hunter postgame on the victory.
However, what Hunter wouldn’t have wanted for his birthday was what he received in the fourth quarter, which was a dislocated right index finger. However, the good news is that X-Rays were negative and Pierce believes it’s not anything to be majorly worried about.
“Right now it just sounds like it’s a sprain, like he just jammed his finger,” said Pierce of the injury. “I don’t think there’s anything serious. I hope not, but you know they were asking him if he still had to lift after the game, so it didn’t sound like there was anything serious to his hand...”
The Hawks have a game again on Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets, and while Hunter wasn’t sure postgame if he would be able to play on Wednesday saying that while the finger didn’t really hurt postgame, he would know more tomorrow.
“I don’t know as of right now,” said Hunter on if he’ll play on Wednesday. “I have a lot of adrenaline and it doesn’t really hurt me right now, but I’ll definitely know by tomorrow.”
Even if Hunter didn’t play on Wednesday, I don’t think this is anything to worry about long-term though it would be unfortunate if Hunter missed out as he has been one of the more consistent performers for the Hawks this season, pouring in 18 points last night.
There were good games to be had from Young — who scored 24 points on 10-of-19 shooting from the field — Reddish impressed defensively (+14 on the game despite shooting 3-of-10 but posted a defensive rating 65.4 in 23 minutes) and Damian Jones, who enjoyed a career-night against his former team. Jones scored a career-high 16 points and grabbed a tied career-high of eight rebounds in 25 minutes.
Not a ton else to say about this game: the Hawks did what they had to do and now that the streak is over, they can try carry some momentum heading forward.
The Hawks (5-16) are back in action on Wednesday night at State Farm Arena where they’ll take on the Brooklyn Nets as they chase a second consecutive victory.
Should be fun, until next time...