January came and went without a Hawks loss.
Another game. Another win. Another record.
The Hawks became the first team in NBA history to go 17-0 in a month with a 91-85 win over the 76ers in front of a sold out Philips Arena crowd of 19,006 Saturday night.
It wasn’t easy.
The short-handed Hawks led by as many as 21 points in the first half before the 76ers came roaring back. The 76ers took an 83-81 lead, their first and only lead of the game, with 2:52 remaining. However, the Hawks answered with a 10-2 run to end the game and clinch their 19th straight victory.
“That was a rough game,” Jeff Teague said. “Guys are banged up and tired but we pulled it out. I don’t know how we did it but we did it.”
The Hawks (40-8, 23-3 home) improved upon their best record in the NBA by winning 33 of 35 games. The 19-game win streak is tied for the sixth-longest overall and fifth-longest single-season run in NBA history.
Al Horford hit two huge baskets on either side of a Dennis Schroder 3-pointer as the Hawks regained the lead with the decisive fourth-quarter run to put the 76ers away.
“I just wanted to make plays,” Horford said. “We were a little stagnant on offense. I felt like I need to step up and take the shots. Jeff set me up real nice, gave me some good passes and I finished the plays.”
Horford tied the game at 83 with a driving layup with 2:26 left. After a 76er miss and Horford rebound, Schroder pulled up for a straight-on 3-pointer with 1:35 remaining.
“They went under and I just pulled up for the 3,” Schroder said.
Horford added an 18-footer with 47.1 seconds left. Horford and Kyle Korver combined for three free throws after the 76ers’ lone basket of the final three minutes.
“As a staff and as a group, we know how important shooting is and we know how important confidence is,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said of Schroder’s 3-pointer. “He works hard. He works every day. I’m on him a lot to attack. I’m on him to get to the paint. I’m on him to collapse the defense. I’m on him to find his open teammates. We believe that when you are open, you need to take what the game gives you. He is going to grow. He’s going to hit big shots for us going forward. We are confident in him.”
Horford led the Hawks with a game-high 23 points and 11 rebounds. Paul Millsap and Schroder added 15 points apiece. Korver added 14 points, making 4 of 6 3-pointers and Teague finished with 10 points and seven assists.
This is the first time the Hawks have had the best record in the NBA this late in a season since they moved to Atlanta in 1968.
The 76ers (10-38) had their two-game win streak snapped. Luc Mbah a Moute, Michael Carter-Williams and Jerami Grant had 13 points each.
The Hawks led by the 21 points in the first half and took a 49-34 advantage into intermission. The Hawks started the game with a Korver 3-pointer and the fast start was on early.
A 14-0 Hawks run to end the first and start the second quarter seemed to be enough to put the game out of hand. The Sixers went 7:54 without a basket during the Hawks’ run.
The Hawks led 22-10 after one period, tying the season-low for points allowed in the first quarter. The Sixers committed one less turnover (9) than points scored (10) in the opening period. The Hawks improved to 34-1 when leading by double-digits at any point during a game this season.
The Sixers outscored the Hawks 32-22 in the third quarter, making 6 of 12 3-pointers, to get back in the game. They trimmed their deficit to 71-66 heading into the final quarter.
The Hawks played without DeMarre Carroll (left Achilles strain), Thabo Sefolosha (right calf strain) and Shelvin Mack (left calf strain). Sefolosha will miss six to eight weeks with his injury after an MRI exam Saturday confirmed the diagnosis.
The Hawks conclude a season-long seven-game homestand undefeated and have won nine in a row at home. They next play at the Pelicans Monday, putting a 12-game road win streak on the line.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.