One night after beating the Knicks, the Golden State Warriors (51-11) were down in “The ATL” to face the Atlanta Hawks (34-28).
The Warriors were without Kevin Durant (left knee) and Damian Jones (D-League assignment).
Q1: Splash Brothers Shoot Blanks
The Hawks took the first punch, as Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson continued missing from downtown, while Dennis Schroder and Kent Bazemore hit a three and a jumper.
Meanwhile, Draymond Green drained a triple from up top and went down the right side for a finesse scoop, but Curry threw a bad pass that caromed off Thompson’s foot out of bounds, Klay attacked a bit too ambitiously, traveling on a 1-on-3 transition, before Steph found Green on a cut, who then immediately found JaVale McGee for a two-hand smash…
…after Zaza Pachulia checked out with two early fouls that had sent Dwight Howard to the line on multiple occasions.
On a miss at the line by Howard, Tim Hardaway, Jr. got the offensive rebound and found Thabo Sefalosha for a rare triple, and suddenly the Hawks had a 23-13 lead with 5:17 remaining.
But McGee made a nifty drive and spin move, finishing with a lefty, Andre Iguodala drilled a triple on the catch from Curry, Klay forced Sefalosha into a bad pass, Steph’s three went short, but Matt Barnes came in a drilled a catch-and-shoot from the left arc, assisted by JaVale, and Iguodala smashed home a fast break enabled by a JaVale disruption of a Paul Millsap attack and an assist by Curry:
That brought the Warriors back to a 25-21 deficit with 3:47 to play, although Curry and Thompson were a combined 0-for-5 from deep.
Schroder stayed hot, getting an and-one high off the board against McGee out of a timeout by Atlanta head coach Mike Budenholzer. After free throws by Iguodala, Schroder struck again, hitting another triple, and Golden State head coach Steve Kerr called a twenty-second timeout to slow him down a bit.
It didn’t work, as Schroder pulled up with his foot on the arc after Barnes’ second try from three-point range fell short, but Barnes then found Steph backdoor for a layup, but then also threw the ball away on a possession with extra passing, forcing Iguodala to take a foul to stop the break, which ended with two free throws because the Warriors were in the penalty.
Curry finally hit from downtown with 46 seconds to go to pull the Dubs to within 37-32, but Schroder got his 17th, 18th, and 19th points on yet another trey.
Ian Clark came in and hit a three with under ten seconds left, but Hardaway came back at the other end and got fouled on an attack before the buzzer, resulting in two free throws with 0.9 seconds remaining, which gave the Hawks a 42-35 lead heading into the second stanza.
Q2: Bench Rising
Both teams struggled to score in the first minute-and-a-half of the second frame, and there were bad omens as Klay decided to drive instead of shoot the three and Shaun Livingston was caught in “no-man’s land”, getting an unexpected pass from Thompson while on the baseline for a turnover.
Then Draymond couldn’t hold on to a rebound and Ersan Ilyasova turned that into a fade-away catch-and-shoot triple over Iguodala draped over him, which seemed to open the floodgates for the Hawks.
Schroder got a scoop off a pick-and-roll with Howard, Green got called for a 50/50 charge against Ilyasova, Draymond couldn’t corral another rebound with the taller Ilyasova on his back, and Klay committed his second personal on a Schroder drive with minimal contact…
…then a third personal foul as Ilyasova iso’d him with a fade-away on a post-up.
David West then made a bad pass back out to Barnes, Hardaway hit the run-out layup, and Kerr took another timeout as Atlanta moved ahead, 50-37, with 9:00 to play and the Hawks shooting 57 percent from the field.
Ilyasova stretched the lead out to 52-37 with another fade-away, this time at the shot clock buzzer even after Livingston had played good double-team post entry defense against Howard, who fended him off with the off-arm.
But West got hot and hit a couple jumpers, Barnes muscled Ilyasova on the offensive glass and got a feed to Livingston for a dunk…
…then free throws, and then found Iguodala for a trip to the line via behind-the-back pass, and the bench unit had the game back to a manageable 52-44 deficit with 6:32 to go as Iguodala led the way with 11 points off the bench.
After a timeout, Iguodala hit a three on the catch from the right corner, then on a broken play in transition, found Pachulia down low for an easy bucket, but Bazemore swished a three as the Warriors let him shoot, after Golden State got as close as 55-51.
However, Curry came back in and promptly committed a turnover on a pass back to Iguodala, similar to the one early on with Klay, where Iguodala wasn’t sure what Steph was going to do and was caught on the baseline again.
Closing out the half, Clark did well to attack and draw a foul on Hardaway who attempted unsuccessfully to draw the charge on the floater, Iguodala drew free throws again, Clark hit another catch-and-shoot triple assisted by Andre, and Curry found Ian on a cut for two more.
But Schroder proved too speedy and got a coast-to-coast layup, and so did Hardaway after Steph missed an in-transition pull-up from a yard beyond the arc, and the Hawks took a 66-61 lead at halftime.
(Photo: @letsgowarriors Instagram account via @basketballmaniafr)