Hawks can (briefly) reflect on success

A brief moment of reflection was finally possible for the Hawks.

A 19-game win streak, tied for the fifth-longest in NBA history, ended Monday night with a lopsided loss to the Pelicans in New Orleans. After a 37-day run, the Hawks allowed themselves a moment to think about all they accomplished.

“Now, we can look at all that stuff,” Al Horford said in the Hawks’ postgame locker room. “I wasn’t really paying that much attention to the numbers and the history. But I’m proud of our group. We played good basketball.”

That moment is over.

Coach Mike Budenholzer addressed his team following the 115-110 loss, telling them that he was proud of them and the streak. He was just as proud of the way they handled all the trappings that come with such success. Then the coach had one more message for his troops. Enjoy it because come Tuesday, it’s back to work.

“He said it was a good streak and that we approached it the right way,” Kyle Korver said. “We really didn’t talk about it. We really didn’t celebrate it. We just came to work every day. It’s a nice little in-season accomplishment to win that many games in a row but tomorrow, we’ll come back to work and keep plugging away.”

“A nice little in-season accomplishment,” it was.

The Hawks now turn their attention to Wednesday’s game against the Wizards at Philips Arena. The Wizards are second in the Southeast Division, third in the Eastern Conference and trail the Hawks by nine games. The Hawks already own two wins against them, one a home and one on the road.

Hawks players said the focus of Tuesday’s practice was on defense, which has been lacking over the past three games.

The Hawks know they have commanded the respect of the NBA with their run; even with Monday’s loss, they have won 33 of the past 36 games. Look no further than the reaction of the Pelicans players to being streak-busters.

“It was fun to see them celebrating like they won a championship,” Jeff Teague said. “I couldn’t believe it. Now that we know we have a target on our back, we have to step it up and play hard every game and come out with our ‘A game.’”

Budenholzer said he learned several things about his team during the streak.

“Consistency is probably something that coaches crave and probably everybody craves,” Budenholzer said. “For our group, on an individual basis and on a group basis, to bring that kind of consistent activity, consistent work, to each game. And the defense, I think there were some nights when we weren’t very good offensively and still defensively found ways to keep ourselves in it and even win. I think those two things. Reflecting, consistency is what a coach wants instead of all the ups and downs.”

The Hawks won a 106-102 decision over the Wizards in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 25. The Hawks then routed them 120-89 on Jan. 11, part of the 19-game streak. In the two games, Teague is averaging 19.5 points, 6.5 assists, 3.5 steals, 2.5 rebounds and one block.

Injury update: It appears reserve guard Shelvin Mack will miss his ninth straight game with a left calf strain. Budenholzer said Mack has done more intense basketball activity and could be ready to return by the weekend. DeMarre Carroll practiced Tuesday and had no set back. The starting small forward missed two games with a strained left Achilles before returning in limited minutes against the Pelicans.