Hawks get by Warriors in matchup of NBA heavyweights

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

ATLANTA — If critics still had their doubts about the Atlanta Hawks being the best team in the NBA.

Doubt no more.

Atlanta finished with seven players score in double figures, led by Jeff Teague’s 23 points on 5-of-15 shooting from the field, but shot 11-of-11 from the charity stripe as the Hawks shot a blistering 70.6 percent in the third quarter to take a 124-116 home victory over the Golden State Warriors Friday night in the battle of the top two teams from each conference.

Paul Milsap scored 21 points, Kyle Korver had 17 points (5-of-9 from 3-point range), and Al Horford finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds for the Hawks, who improved to an NBA-best 42-9 and 14-3 versus the Western Conference with the victory.

The lion share of the credit must got to the Hawks’ bench, that really determine the outcome of the game.

Mike Scott scored 17 points, Kent Bazemore had 11 points, and Dennis Schroder finished with nine points but combined to sink 7-of-8 on 3s. The second-best 3-pointing shooting shot 15-of-27 from 3-point range and outscored the Warrior’s bench, 39-32.

“They were good,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. “They were better than us. We broke down defensively. They had a lot to do with that because of the way they stretch you out.”

The Hawks have won 21 of their last 22 games following a franchise record 19-game winning streak.

After leading 25-21 at the end of the first quarter, Golden State (39-9) just slowed down against Hawks team that improved to 25-3 at home this season, second to Golden State’s 23-2 record at Oracle Arena.

Klay Thompson had a game-high 29 points and Stephen Curry scored 26 points, to go along with nine assist and one turnover.

Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green had 12 points apiece, but Green had a gigantic night on the glass, finishing with a career-high 20 rebounds.

Golden State did have their way with the Hawks in the paint, outscoring Atlanta 58-36 down low. The Warriors even held the edge in rebounding, outrebouding the Hawks 51-38.

But Golden State committed too many turnovers (14), and never overcame the 14-4 run by Atlanta in the final minute of the second quarter after leading 50-47.

Golden State will have another chance at Atlanta when the Hawks visit Oakland on Mar. 18.

The Warriors continue their road trip Saturday night at Madison Square Garden against the Knicks, their fourth game in five nights.

Extra Buckets:

  • The game showcase three of the eight contenders in the Three-Point Contest before NBA All-Star Weekend in New York Feb. 14 in Warriors’ duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, and Atlanta’s Kyle Korver.
  • The entire starting five of the Hawks (Horford, Teague, Korver, Milsap, and Carroll) were named Eastern Conference Players of the Month for January, the first time in NBA history that an entire starting five were given the honor. Atlanta finished 17-0 in January, tops in the NBA.
  • Apparently, Curry does not like Teague defending him at all. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Curry shot 3-of-8 on jump shots with Teague as his primary defender. In the first quarter, Curry shot 1-of-6 from the field, his worst of the season. He was 0-of-4 against Teague.

Warriors Stiff Hawks Despite Thompson’s Early Exit With Back Stiffness

By Matthew Harrington

Golden State received a major scare on Friday night, but the visiting Atlanta Hawks weren’t the ones striking fear into the Warriors, nor scoreboard a factor as it was during the last engagement between the two teams. The Dubs skated to a 111-97 win at Oracle Arena this time out, outscoring the Hawks (26-34) in three of four quarters, a far departure from the 101-100 dramatic win in Atlanta in January. The drama from the evening, however, came six minutes into play when guard Klay Thompson shuffled off the court with a back injury, sitting out the rest of the evening.

The Warriors stated that Thompson, a talent on the cusp on super-stardom, was held out as a precautionary measure. His streak of 211 consecutive regular-season appearances, a franchise record, does not appear to be in jeopardy.  Despite only six minutes of playing time, Thompson still managed a point-per-minute output, going 2-for-5 from the field with a pair of free throws.

David Lee topped the Dubs with 18 points in 25 minutes while Andre Iguodala and Stephen Curry contributed 13 points apiece. Curry lead the Warriors with seven assists, while center Andrew Bogut had a team-high nine rebounds. Golden State (39-24) connected on over half of their bids from the floor, hitting 43-of-80 from the field for a 54.8 shooting percentage. They also out-rebounded the Hawks 44-36.

Forward Paul Millsap had 16 points and seven boards, both highs for the Hawks, after missing the previous five games with a knee injury. Fellow forward Mike Scott added 14 points. Scott also provided the comedy for the evening, losing his shoe put proceeding to make a three-pointer on the play.

The first quarter saw even play as the Warriors closed out the first 12 minutes with a single-point, 32-31 lead. It appeared to be more of the same for the 2nd quarter, with the Warriors grasping to a 48-46 lead five minutes from the half. Atlanta would be held to just six points over the closing 300 seconds to head to the half in a 66-52 hole.

The Hawks outscored the Warriors 25-19 in the third, the only instance of Atlanta outscoring its hosts in a quarter Friday night. The final frame of regulation opened on a down note for the visitors though as they failed to put a point on the board until Shelvin Mack hit a jumper with 5:07 left to play. By then the Warriors held a decisive 97-79 margin, allowing Golden State to withstand an 18-12 Atlanta run over the waning minutes of play to come out victorious.

Friday marked the first home game for the Warriors after their second-longest road trip of the season, a six-game swing that saw them go 4-2 against Eastern Conference foes. In a flip of scheduling, the Warriors will only play two of the remaining 10 games in March on the road. They continue the three-game home set with a tilt against Phoenix Sunday before the Dallas Mavericks come to Oakland Tuesday night. The Dubs, winners of eight of their last ten, currently sit in sixth place in the Western Conference standings and are four games back of the Los Angeles Clippers for the Pacific Division lead.