The Hawks took the reigning NBA champions on a thrill ride Friday night at Philips Arena.
In the first matchup between the Golden State Warriors and former general manager Travis Schlenk since his move to Atlanta, the Hawks put up a fight for 48 minutes, but lost 114-109 behind 28-point performances by Steph Curry and Kevin Durant.
Here are some observations from the loss:
Hawks cut the game to two in the fourth, but couldn’t hold on
Although the Hawks played debatably their grittiest game of the season against the Warriors, it wasn’t enough to put the game away.
While Hawks coaches and players would love having that win on their schedule, they’re okay with the result.
“We only lost by five... against Golden State so there’s not really much we could do,” Taurean Prince said. “There’s already less room for error playing a team like that so I think we were even in a position of being able to win a game against them I guess it shows how hard we’re working and what we can be.”
After trailing by as many as 15 points, the Hawks cut the game to two with 20.3 seconds remaining, but a steal and dunk by Andre Iguodala sealed the game for the Warriors.
The Hawks trailed the Warriors by five with 20.3 seconds left but a foul on Dennis Schroder by Draymond Green let Schroder three free throw attempts and cut the Warriors’ lead to 111-109 with 19.9 seconds remaining.
With 10:09 remaining in Friday’s game, the Hawks cut what was once a 15-point Warriors lead to five points, but the Warriors went on a 9-0 run, causing the Hawks to play catchup once again.
“I think one of the things we said after the game was it felt like we got better as the game went on… The execution, the competitiveness, the effort was great,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Obviously, Golden State deserving of all the accolades and compliments and everything… but really, really proud of how our guys played tonight.”
Hawks took advantage of Warriors turnovers
The Hawks, who lead the league in opponent turnovers, scored 30 points off 18 Warrior turnovers in Friday’s matchup.
In the first half, the turnover advantage sat with the Warriors scored 18 points off the Hawk 12 turnovers and the Hawks scored 11 of the Warriors eight.
“They’re so hard to guard, but we were really engaged defensively... The turnovers, that’s kind of like igniting or pace and transition so I think if we can create more turnovers, I think we’ll be fast,” Budenholzer said.
The Hawks entered Friday’s game first in the league in opponent turnovers per game (15.5) after forcing 24 turnovers against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday. The Warriors entered Friday one of the worst in turning the ball over with 15.4 per game.
The Warriors scored 27 points off 22 Hawks’ turnovers.
Bazemore’s hot hand a major factor in third quarter
Kent Bazemore, who totaled a career-high of 29 points against the Warriors, scored 10-straight in the third quarter to help the Hawks out of one of many deficits on Friday.
Bazemore shot 10-of-16 from the field and 5-of-7 beyond the arc against the Warriors what Budenholzer said was one of hs best games in Atlanta on both ends of the court.
“Obviously, there were a couple times we went down 10 or 12, maybe more, and he strung together a three or two and out and transitioned big baskets and big plays and I think his defense, Klay Thompson only had 15 (points) on nine shots,” Budenholzer said.
The Warriors opened the second half leading the Hawks Hawks scored 10 points to start third quarter 62-50 and had led by as much as 15 points in the third quarter.
Bazemore, a former Warrior, along with the Hawks bench outscored the Warriors 34-28 in the third quarter.
Curry doused Hawks in second quarter before leaving the game
When Warriors point guard Curry returned from a tweaked ankle with 7:18 remaining in the second quarter, he couldn’t be stopped.
Curry, who entered Friday averaging a team-high of 26.7 points, scored 15 of the Warriors’ 29 second quarter points. Curry shot 5-of-7 from the field and 2-of-4 beyond the arc in the third quarter before leaving the game due to an ankle injury.
Curry scored 11-straight points after re-entering the game in the second quarter, but his surge was alleviated slightly by a combined 14 second quarter points from Bazemore and Schroder.
Curry shot 8-of-15 from the field and 4-of-9 from the 3-point line to tie Durant for a team-high of 28 points. Curry also shot 8-of-8 free throws against the Hawks.
Behind Curry, Warriors ended the first half leading the Hawks, 62-50.
Schroder hit a shot from the logo
To end the third quarter, Schroder slung a shot as time expired from the Hawks’ logo and made it, narrowing the Warriors lead to six points.
Schroder, who led the Hawks in scoring the last two contests with the Warriors, totaled 27 points, five rebounds and a team-high of nine assists.
With Schroder’s shot, the Hawks trailed the Warriors 90-84 entering the fourth quarter.
Warriors started second quarter on 10-0 run
After the Hawks matched the Warriors offensive prowess and defensive aggression in the first quarter, the Warriors went on a 10-0 run to start the second quarter courtesy of eight points by Nick Young.
The drought was finally ended with a field goal by Dewayne Dedmon and then two field goals by Kent Bazemore, giving the Warriors a 43-38 lead with 7:18 remaining in the first half.
Young finished the Warriors’ win with 16 points, making 4-of-8 beyond the arc.
Schroder matched up well with Curry in first quarter
Curry, who shot five free throws early in the first quarter, went 2-of-5 from the field, 1-of-2 beyond the arc for 10 points in the 11 minutes he was guarded by Schroder in the first quarter.
With 1:34 remaining in the first quarter, Curry was taken out after appearing to tweak his ankle when landing awkwardly on Zaza Pachulia’s foot. Curry returned in the second quarter, but left during the third quarter and was ruled out for the remainder of the game.
“You lose one of the best players on their team, once of the best players in the league, no doubt it has an impact on the game,” Budenholzer said after the game. “He was having to work for every bucket he got and he was having to work defensively, hopefully we put him through the grinder.”
Hawks fed off Warriors’ energy, scoring power early
The Hawks seemed to pick up where they left off after their win over the Indiana Pacers during the opening minutes of Friday’s game against the Warriors.
Thanks to consecutive 3-pointers by Taurean Prince and a layup to open the game by Dennis Schroder, the Hawks took a 8-2 lead on the Warriors.
“We’ve been positive all year,” Budenholzer said of the Hawks last two games. “It’s not easy. You’d like to have that little bit of success and that tangible result at the end of the night but the way our guys are competing and that’s where our focus is. I think our guys are getting better and I’m proud of them.”
Defensively, the Hawks met the energy of the Warriors league-leading offense, stopping an early 3-pointer by Curry and taking advantage of a bad pass by Warriors center JaVale McGee.
The Hawks and Warriors had comparable stats in the first quarter with both teams shooting 60 percent from the field, the Hawks shot 3-of-5 from the 3-point line compared to the Warriors’ 4-of-8 and the Hawks scored 16 points in the paint compared to the Warriors’ 12.
The Warriors led the Hawks 33-31 to start the second quarter.
Golden State shot above season field goal percentage
While the Warriors shot below their season average beyond the 3-point line Friday, they scored enough to get the job done against the Hawks.
The Warriors shot 53.2 percent from the field and 35.5 percent beyond the arc against the Hawks. Golden State entered Friday shooting 51.1 percent from the field and the 39.8 from the 3-point line.
Hawks struggled in assists
The Hawks entered Friday eighth in the league averaging 23.6 assists, but were held to 21 against the Warriors.
The Warriors, by contrast, finished Friday’s win with 33 assists.
Through the third quarter, the Warriors had 28 assists on their first 33 field goals. The Hawks only totaled 15 assists on 30 field goals through the third quarter.
The Hawks, who will face the Warriors once again at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. on March 23, will play the Phoenix Suns Sunday at 3:30 p.m. at Philips Arena.