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No moral victories as Hawks continue to be battle-tested


There will be a film session after the Hawks’ latest loss.

Count on it.

This review may well be more productive than any look back at the stretch of six defeats in seven games for the struggling team. The Hawks dropped a 105-100 decision at the Warriors on Monday night, a contest in which they led much of the way only to falter with late mistakes. There will be more to discern from this third straight loss than blowouts at the Jazz and Lakers that preceded it.

“I think so because we want to think of ourselves on this level, that can compete against a team like them and be in those type of games,” said Thabo Sefolosha when asked if there were positives to take from the Warriors loss. “If you have a blowout game, you look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘We didn’t bring it.’ A game like this, you can learn a lot because hopefully we’ll be in more situations like this.”

The Hawks conclude their five-game Western trip Wednesday night against the Suns.

The Hawks challenged the Warriors with their All-Star laden lineup, the NBA’s best record and their raucous home crowd. The Warriors used an 11-0 run between the third and fourth quarters to erase a deficit and take a lead the Hawks could not overcome. The Hawks closed to within three points with under two minutes left but closed out the night with mistakes, turnovers and missed shots in the decisive stretch. Those breakdowns will be the focus of the coaching staff.

“We’ve got to execute,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We’ve got to feel like we are getting better shots. The end of the third quarter, they make the buzzer-beater and then they come out with two or three straight buckets and go up five, six, seven. … Those two or three possessions, maybe it was two minutes, that little stretch. You just have to be better for 48 minutes.”

The Hawks had pulled to within 102-99 with 1:34 remaining before missing their final four field goal attempts and committing a turnover. The Warriors’ Draymond Green was credit with two blocks in the final 43 seconds.

Budenholzer said he was proud of the team’s effort in the near-miss. Their energy matched its execution for much of the game, save for a few possessions. The postgame locker room was sullen but not to the depths as after the losses at the Jazz and Lakers.

“We have to continue to compete,” said Dwight Howard, who had a double-double of 14 points and 16 rebounds. “We can’t get frustrated. We are going through some things that are only going to make us tougher. We don’t have moral victories but one thing we can do is trust each other and stay together. These couple weeks have been very tough for us but in the end, we are going to be fine. We are getting battle-tested right now. We are only going to get better.”

The Hawks have slipped to a 10-8 record after winning nine of their first 11 games to open the season. Entering Tuesday play, they trail the Hornets in the Southeast Division and are sixth in the Eastern Conference.

It’s early but the Hawks’ offensive inconsistency has been troublesome. While they remain the NBA’s top ranked team in defensive efficiency, their offense has been a work in progress. Against the Warriors, they appeared to take a step forward, even hitting the 100-point mark for the first time in seven games.

“They are in there beating themselves up,” Budenholzer said. “They want to win. I don’t think they are satisfied with anything different. Hopefully, they understand how they competed and that that gives them their best chance to win tonight or any night. We’ll hopefully focus on that.”


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