By E. Marcel Pourtout, Editor
A win is a win especially when it extends your franchise-record winning streak. Those are the thoughts of the Atlanta Hawks tonight as they won their 19th consecutive game in a 91-85 home victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night.
The Hawks finished the month of January with an undefeated record of 17-0, becoming the first team in NBA history to reach this milestone. Atlanta has now gone 33-2 over the last 35 games.
With the score tied at 81-81 late in the fourth quarter, Nerlens Noel’s dunk gave Philadelphia an 83-81 lead with 2:30 left in the game. Noel finished the game with 11 points and a team-high 10 rebounds for a double-double.
Atlanta took control of the game with a hook shot by Al Horford over three people and a three-pointer down the middle by Dennis Schroder on consecutive possessions for an 86-83 lead with 1:35 left.
After forcing a missed shot from the Sixers, Horford grabbed a crucial offensive rebound and hit a jumper on the right of the key to increase the lead to 88-83 with 46 seconds left.
“Our group found a way,” Hawks’ head coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We are finding different ways to win, different players stepping up each night against a very good defensive team. We have to play a lot better going forward.”
Playing without injured DeMarre Carroll, Shelvin Mack and Thabo Sefolosha, Atlanta had several chances to its rotation. Kent Bazemore started for the first time this season and played more than 30 minutes, scoring three points. John Jenkins played more than 20 minutes and Elton Brand saw extensive action for 11 minutes and even grabbed five rebounds.
In the end, it was about veteran Horford continuing his All-Star season with another stellar performance, notching a double-double with game-highs in points (23) and rebounds (11). Schroder scoring 15 points off the bench and dished out six assists.
“That was a rough game,” Atlanta guard Jeff Teague said. “Guys are banged up and tired. We had to pull it out. I don’t know how we did it, but we did it.”
Statistically, Atlanta shot 43.6 percent from the field and made 10 three-pointers. The Hawks also allowed the Sixers to shoot 40 percent from the three-point line as the road team made 14 threes. Overall, Philadelphia shot 38 percent in the game.
Holding a 49-34 halftime lead, the Hawks were outscored 32-22 in the third quarter, which made the score 71-66 in favor of Atlanta heading into the fourth quarter.
Atlanta led 49-34 at halftime. Paul Millsap had a game-high 10 points and five rebounds for the Hawks in the first half while Jenkins had nine points off the bench. Millsap finished with 15 points and eight rebounds. Overal. the Hawks shot 44 percent from the field in the first half, making five out of 12 three-pointer attempts.
Philadelphia shot 32 percent in the first half, led by a team-high eight points by Michael Carter-Williams. He finished the contest with a team-high 13 points.