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How key possessions down the stretch cost the Hawks against Warriors

Five observations from the Hawks’ 105-100 loss to the Warriors on Monday.

1. An NBA game can turn on a few plays. The Hawks came up short on several key possessions in the third and fourth quarters. One example came when Tim Hardaway Jr. didn’t use enough of the shot clock on a late possession in the third quarter. It allowed the Warriors to have one more chance and Ian Clark hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Instead of taking an 81-77 lead into the final 12 minutes, the Hawks led by only one point.

“I think we’ve got to execute, we’ve got to feel like we’re getting better shots,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “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.”

2. Speaking of that key stretch. The potent Warriors offense can kick into gear at any time. They did so to start the fourth quarter. They scored the first four baskets of the quarter fueled by the Hawks’ 0-for-3 shooting with two turnovers. The Warriors took a seven-point lead with the 11-0 run between the third and fourth quarters and the Hawks never got closer than three points.

“Definitely better than what it has been,” Paul Millsap said of the Hawks’ offense. “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.”

3. The Hawks have lost six of the past seven games and offense has clearly been the issue. In the six games before Monday, they failed to score more than 96 points in each. Coaches and players were clearly frustrated.

This game was different.

The Hawks moved the ball with greater urgency and efficiency. They hit the 100-point mark, shot 42 percent from the field and recorded 20 assists. The end result was a loss but there was reason to be encouraged going forward. The Hawks led for most of the game after the midway point of the second quarter until the Warriors’ decisive run.

“It’s encouraging,” Kent Bazemore said. “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.”

4. The Hawks trailed 29-27 after one quarter. That was a big deal considering the Warriors went on a 15-1 run during the period and led by as many as eight points, 23-15. The Hawks survived a span of 3:31 without a field goal. It was important that the Hawks didn’t let the game get out of hand early.

Better yet, the Hawks did not come unglued in the second quarter. The period has been a nemesis in recent games. The Hawks outscored the Warriors by five points in the period and took a 53-50 lead at intermission.

5. The Hawks bench was one of the main reasons for the close game, especially in the first half. The Hawks bench combined for 27 first-half points. That’s three more than the 24 points they had the entire game in the loss to the Lakers Sunday. Malcolm Delaney was the key contributor off the bench. He had nine first-half points on a perfect 3 of 3 shooting, including one 3-pointer, and two free throws.

The bench slowed in the second half. They finished with 37 points.

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