The Atlanta Hawks suffered their sixth loss in seven games as they dropped a tightly contested fixture against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, 105-100. The Warriors had three players who scored 20 or more points, Kevin Durant and Steph Curry both scored 25 points while Klay Thompson added 20 points to the Warriors’ cause.
A valiant effort, reason for optimism going forward
Although the Hawks did lose their sixth game in their last seven games, they can be proud of how they played competed against arguably the best team in the NBA, the Warriors now winners of 12 straight games. This was not a bad loss. The Hawks played some good defense — holding the team with the highest offense efficiency in the Warriors (115 points per 100 possessions heading into this game) to 101 points per 100 possessions — and played some good offense, much better than we’ve seen it of late and they cracked 100 points for the first time in six games.
“Definitely better than what it (the Hawks’ offense) has been. We still have to get better. It’s a loss. It goes on to the record. It’s tough but we’ll take and build on it.” — Paul Millsap
The Hawks seemed to run out of gas a little bit in the fourth quarter, where the Warriors outscored the Hawks 25-19. The Hawks missed some decent looks and when the Warriors’ defense clamped down, you just weren’t sure who was going to step up for the Hawks offensively.
A period of the game that, I thought, proved costly for the Hawks was that period of the game where end of the third quarter ends and the first few minutes of the fourth quarter. Tim Hardaway Jr. misses a three-point attempt in the dying embers of the third quarter, and from the resulting stop Ian Clarke drains the buzzer-beating three to cut the Hawks lead from four to one heading into the fourth quarter. The Warriors, with the crowd now energised, reeled a quick 6-0 run that gave the Warriors a five point lead, a lead they would not relinquish.
“I think we’ve got to execute, we’ve got to feel like we’re getting better shots. I think the end of the third quarter, they made their buzzer-beater, they come out with two or three straight buckets, they get up six or seven, and I don’t know that we ever came back and took a lead. We probably cut it to two or three, but those two or three possessions or two minutes, that stretch, you’ve just got to be better for 48 minutes.” — Coach Mike Budenholzer
Most fans realistically knew that this wasn’t a game the Hawks were going to win but they pushed the Warriors all the way (leading for most of this game), and that’s encouraging considering the slump the Hawks find themselves in, something that the Hawks can build on.
“It’s encouraging. It was a tough team at home to play against and I think subliminally the guys had the mindset of if we came out like we did these past few games we would gotten ran out of the gym, so I think our focuses were a little heightened and we had some good moments there. We led for the majority of the game and you know you got to give them credit. They made plays down the stretch and they came out with a big win.” — Kent Bazemore
They sure made some plays down the stretch, particularly on the defensive end and, more specifically, Draymond Green. With the Hawks down four points Green, on separate possessions in the final minute, blocked both Dennis Schröder’s and Kent Bazemore’s shot attempts, and on both occasions blocked it off of them, resulting in the Warriors regaining possession — crushing blows.
“It’s like a double slap in the face. When you get the shot block and it go off you out of bounds? It’s pretty funny. I like those.” — Draymond Green
Hawks radio play-by-play man, Steve Holman had an absolute gem of a line when Draymond did his little dance after he blocked Bazemore’s shot.
"Draymond Green is dancing like they just won the World Championship, which they didn't last year because of him." –@RealVoiceofHawk
— Mike Conti (@MikeConti929) November 29, 2016
Fantastic, although some Warrior, and NBA fans alike, did take some exception.
Tough loss but if the Hawks played like this going forward, they should be just fine. Part of me is slightly worried that this Hawks performance was more to do with the Hawks rising to the occasion under the bright lights of the Bay against one of the best teams in the league rather than actually finding a fix for the issues the Hawks have been facing of late, and the Warriors didn’t exactly play their best game. We shall see.
Dennis stars but other starters struggle
You could argue whether this was Dennis Schröder’s best game of the season. He scored 24 points on 10-of-20 shooting while dishing out six assists.
What I liked about his performance was that most of the shots Dennis took were decently in rhythm with the offense. Sure, there were some possessions where he tried to do too much (nothing new there), but for the most part the shots he took were decent shots. I would like to see Dennis convert a few more of his shots at the rim though, 2-of-7 at the rim last night.
But on a more positive note, Dennis definitely took it to Steph Curry not only on the offensive end but defensively too, both he, Thabo Sefolosha and Malcolm Delaney did a good job limiting Curry to a 6-for-17 shooting performance.
If Dennis can string together performances even similar to this on a consistent basis, that’d be fantastic, but of course this is the issue with Schröder. His next test will be against Eric Bledsoe of the Phoenix Suns.
Besides Dwight Howard (who put up 14 points and 16 rebounds) the rest of the Atlanta starters struggled shooting the ball. Kyle Korver was locked down (three points on 1-of-6 shooting and 1-of-4 from downtown), Kent Bazemore (4-of-15 from the field, 0-of-6 from behind the arc and was a little out of control with some of his drives to the rim) wasn’t able follow up his strong Lakers game and Paul Millsap — again — struggled from the field (3-of-11 from the field) but did manage to get himself to the free throw line where he shot 6-of-7.
The encouraging thing is that the Hawks were this close to beating the Warriors and 3 of the 5 starters did not shoot the ball well at all.
4 man bench shines
Coach Bud is known to go quite deep into his rotation, both in the regular season and — to the annoyance of some — in the playoffs. Despite missing Mike Scott and Tiago Splitter through injury (as the Hawks have all season), Bud only called upon four bench players last night: Mike Muscala, Malcolm Delaney, Thabo Sefolosha and Tim Hardaway Jr. And they all stepped up.
Tim Hardaway Jr. (despite shooting 3-of-8 from the field and 1-of-6 from behind the arc) led the bench with 10 points while Moose, Thabo and Delaney all scored nine points apiece. This bench boost definitely kept the Hawks in this game and, considering how some of the starters shot last night, the bench alone may have prevented this game from being a blowout.
I wanted to praise Malcolm Delaney in particular who, although he cooled off in the second half, had a great stretch in the first half where he scored nine points on 3-of-3 shooting and dished out four assists in nine first half minutes.
While the bench in general did cool off in the second quarter, the Hawks’ bench still outscored the Warriors’ 37-27.
Mike Scott on the broadcast
During the first half, the Hawks broadcast had — arguably I’ll admit — the greatest Hawks forward ever, Mike Scott, on the call. They asked him about his recovery from a knee procedure and Scott said he’s “day-to-day” at this stage, so we should expect to see him back on the court soon.
Something that got a great laugh out of me was when Hawks sideline reporter Andre Aldridge asked Mike had he been able to shoot while he was unable to play, and Mike Scott replied “You say shoot? Of course, that’s what I do…”. Oh, it sure is…
I feel as though I shouldn’t have to explain why this is funny (because most Hawks fans should know), but I suppose I may as well. I laughed because Mike Scott likes to shoot and, of course, he would pick out the word “shoot” above all other words. It’s like when a child is sat around the dinner table and the word ice cream comes up in conversation and the child excitedly asks “Did someone say ice-cream?”. It’s like that, only shooting with Mike Scott. Well, I at least thought it was funny…
The Hawks (10-8) wrap up their five game road trip with a trip to the desert and a matchup with the Phoenix Suns. This is definitely, and I know it’s early, a must win game. The Hawks are currently 1-3 on this road trip and if the Hawks lose this game in Phoenix it would not only be the Hawks’ seventh loss in eight games, but they would also end this road trip 1-4 and that’s a very unsuccessful road trip. 2-3 is somewhat OK (not great but OK) but 1-4 would be considered a failure of a road trip.