The Hawks dispatched the Philadelphia 76ers 91-85 for their 19th win in a row Saturday night at Philips Arena. Atlanta built a 21-point lead late in the second quarter, but the Sixers pushed back in the third quarter, cutting the lead to just five points entering the fourth. The fourth quarter got tense as Philadelphia took a lead late in the game before the Hawks turned it on and finished the game on a 10-2 run.
DeMarre Carroll was out for the second straight game, but the news of the day came pregame, when Coach Budenholzer and the Atlanta training staff confirmed that Thabo Sefolosha will be out 6-8 weeks with an injury to his calf, suffered early in Friday’s win over the Trail Blazers. Kent Bazemore played 40 minutes against the Trail Blazers on Friday after Sefolosha went down and got the start against the Sixers, marking his first start of the season. Bazemore had a poor game offensively, shooting just 1-for-6, culminating in two badly missed free throws with 4:07 left in the game, when the Hawks were up 81-79.
The Hawks weren’t at their best offensively throughout the game, shooting just 43.6%, their worst shooting performance since the win over Milwaukee in late December that started this franchise-long streak. Coach Budenholzer said in his post-game press conference that the Hawks “weren’t very sharp tonight. I don’t think we moved, didn’t move the ball, didn’t move people and got a little stagnant.”
Al Horford was immune to his teammates’ poor shooting however; the Boss went 10-for-16 and extended his streak to 11 straight games shooting 50% or better from the field. The Hawks went to Horford late and he came up big, but Dennis Schröder stole the show with a pull-up three from the top of the key with 1:35 left that gave Atlanta the lead for good. Coach Budenholzer had a lot of praise for Schröder after the game, saying, “He’s going to grow and he’s going to his big shots for us going forward. We’re very confident in him.”
The Hawks played Jeff Teague and Schröder together down the stretch, forcing the defense to defend two pick and roll ball-handlers. When asked about the two-point-guard lineups after the game, Coach Budenholzer said, “Hopefully, we should actually operate in a pretty efficient way.” Those lineups are a work-in-progress for Atlanta; the two point guards have only shared the floor for 52 minutes this season coming into the game against Philadelphia, per nbawowy.
Elton Brand gave the Hawks ten minutes of solid play off the bench, grabbing five rebounds and drawing three charges. The locker room had a lot to say about Brand after the game, with Jeff Teague saying, “’Old School’ got in there and did what he does best. Get in there, rebound, block shots, and take charges.”
The Hawks won each of their 17 games in January, a feat that hasn’t been completed by any team in NBA history; previous perfect months had come with just 16 games on the schedule. The Hawks have finished their seven-game home stand and go on the road to face the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, looking to win their 20th straight game and tie the 1971 Milwaukee Bucks and the 1948 Washington Capitols for the fourth-longest winning streak of all time.