Despite a spirited effort from the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Hawks walked off the court of Philips Arena with their 16th straight win by a score of 112-100.
The Hawks shot 61% in the first quarter, but Minnesota slowed the game down from the start and was creating good shots on offense. Despite the Atlanta’s shooting and only three turnovers, the Hawks led just 25-24 at the end of the first quarter.
“They executed,” said Mike Budenholzer on his opponents. “They were very good tonight… They are cutting off the ball and slashing and getting to the basket, and guys are finding them.”
The Hawks’ defense started to clamp down in the second quarter, however, as the Hawks used their activity and quickness to continuously deny the Timberwolves’ chances at getting open looks. The offense in the period was a group effort led by the frontcourt, where seven of the Hawks’ nine assists in the quarter came from a member of the frontcourt.
The 36-23 advantage that the Hawks had in the second quarter essentially sustained them for the rest of the game. The Wolves, led by Thaddeus Young and Mo Williams, were working the Hawks well enough to keep Minnesota hanging around for most of the second half. Young had 20 of his 26 points in the second half and finished the game with a filled box scored that included six rebounds, seven assists, and a steal.
The Hawks closed out with a balanced effort, where eight different players scored in the final quarter. The Wolves had busted the Atlanta lead down to six at one point, but Kyle Korver and DeMarre Carroll buried the game by hitting back-to-back 3-pointers to lift the lead back to double-digits.
“Not our prettiest game,” said Budenholzer, “but to make big plays down the stretch, a couple of big shots, the way the ball moved, finding open guys… when the game got tight, they trusted their spacing, trusted the pass.” Trusting the pass gave the Hawks another 30-assist game. Five different players had at least four assists, led by Jeff Teague’s seven.
Minnesota opened the game with Nikola Pekovic and Gorgui Dieng starting at the two big spots, but often gave way to Young at the 4 due to Pekovic and Dieng getting wasted on the perimeter by Paul Millsap and Al Horford. While even Young couldn’t stop the domination from Millsap and Horford — the two Hawks combined for 39 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists on 16-for-21 shooting — he was at least about to match the Atlanta effort with his own offensive exploits, something that Dieng was not going to be able to do.
From the Hawks’ bench, both Thabo Sefolosha and Dennis Schröder had impactful nights. Schröder had 11 points and four assists in 16 minutes and Sefolosha was 2-for-2 on 3-points as he continues to further himself from the shooting slump that plagued him at the start of the season.
Speaking of 3-pointers, Korver may not have dunked, but he was 4-for-8 from behind the arc. So the dunk streak ends at two, but the current #KyleStreak of 3s is back up the 32 games. This is Korver’s best set of games since his streak of 127 consecutive games with a 3-pointer was ended last year.
Something of note: this was the first game during the Hawks’ winning streak where they did not cover the game’s point spread from Vegas. Of course, Vegas also had the Hawks as 18-point favorites, which is something I have never seen before. (h/t to @BTRowland)