Paul Millsap led the way for the Hawks with 28 points and 15 rebounds as the Atlanta Hawks won their 17th game in a row over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night. The Hawks’ 38th win of the season matches their regular season total from 2013-14. Millsap got his 28 points on just nine shots, going 15-for-16 from the free throw line; Millsap’s 15 made free throws matched the Nets’ team total for the game. Six Hawks scored in double digits, including a 5-for-8, 13-point performance off the bench from Dennis Schröder.
The first quarter was less than ideal for the Hawks defensively, as the Nets put up 27 points in the first twelve minutes. After the game, Coach Budenholzer said, “We need to play better defensively than we did tonight, but that’s what practice will be for tomorrow.” The Hawks were able to match the Nets shot for shot in the first quarter, closing with three 3-pointers in the last minute and a half to take a 30-27 lead going into the second quarter.
Brooklyn shot 65% in the first quarter, and Coach Budenholzer’s message to his team between quarters was about the poor defensive effort, as the Hawks came out and gave up just 8-for-23 shooting for the Nets in the second quarter. Atlanta continued their strong offensive output, getting to the line ten times in the quarter. Atlanta’s 34 points in the second helped them to open up an 11-point halftime lead. When asked about closing the first half, Coach Budenholzer said, “Something we talk a lot about and we’re emphasizing is finishing quarters. There have been a good number of nights where (in) that second quarter, we’re able to make a push before halftime. It usually starts with our defense.” The Hawks closed on a 21-9 run over the final seven minutes of the first half, in which the Nets shot just 2-for-12 from the field.
“We just wanted to close out the first half making a run,” said Al Horford. “We got stops when we needed to.”
Once the Hawks built their double-digit halftime lead, they were in control for the rest of the contest. Millsap and Horford continued to dominate the Nets’ bigs, combining for 22 points in the second half. Horford was nearly perfect throughout the game from the field; his 10-for-13 performance was his ninth game in a row in which he’s shot 50% or better.
The 17th straight win for the Hawks extends the franchise-long winning streak they’ve put together in the last month, but Coach Budenholzer isn’t worried that the success is going to the players’ heads: “We have a mature group that’s focused on being better each day. We spend a lot of time each day getting better individually. We keep our mindset there, and we just play.” Former Hawk Joe Johnson even mentioned the streak after the game, saying, “I told Jeff that I’m very proud of him and Al. I hope they keep rolling.”
Atlanta welcomes Portland to town on Friday, with the 32-14 Trail Blazers coming off a hard-fought loss against the Cavaliers on Wednesday night.