The Atlanta Hawks lost to Toronto, 126-115, on Nov. 26 – the night before Thanksgiving – to fall to 7-6 on the season. Well, they’ve since won 13 of 14 to improve to 20-7.
The Hawks now trail Toronto (22-7) by just one game for the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
“We’re playing as a team,” Hawks power forward Paul Millsap said on Ferrall on the Bench. “It’s as simple as that. We’re playing as a team, doing it on both ends. This is what a team can do when everybody’s locked in and on the same page.”
Everyone was on the same page Monday, as the Hawks beat the Mavericks, 105-102, in Dallas. All five Atlanta starters finished in double figures: Millsap had 13 points (to go with 12 rebounds, seven assists and two blocks), DeMarre Carroll had 15 points, Al Horford had 17, Kyle Korver had 18 and Dennis Schroder had a career-high 22.
“It’s just not one or two guys; it’s a team thing,” Millsap said. “Nobody cares who gets the credit; nobody cares who gets the stats. I think that’s why we’re doing so well – because nobody cares. The main goal is to win a game, and everybody is focused on just that.”
That’s not just lip service, either. Atlanta leads the league in assists (25.8 per game).
The Hawks’ only loss this month came in Orlando – by a point – the night after they beat the Magic in Atlanta.
“We were so disappointed (losing that game),” Millsap said. “We fought hard that game. We knew it’s tough to beat a team two nights in a row, (and) they came out blazing. But we were really disappointed that we lost that game.”
The Hawks, however, have responded as well as possible, reeling off four consecutive wins against championship contenders: Chicago, Cleveland, Houston and Dallas. Even more impressive? Those last three wins all came on the road.
“We don’t really talk; we just go out there and do our jobs and try to win games,” Millsap said. “At the end of the day, that’s what it’s about. Hopefully at the end of the season (when) we look back, (we’re) where we want to be.”
Millsap said the Hawks’ bench has been pivotal during their hot streak.
“I believe we got one of the best benches in the league,” he said. “Mike Scott, Shelvin Mack – these guys come in every night, give their all. We need a big bench. We’re going to need that going forward and hopefully they’ll continue to help us out.”
Atlanta, which ranks ninth in the league in scoring (103.1) and seventh in points allowed (97.1), hosts the Clippers (19-9) on Tuesday before playing a back-to-back with the Bucks (14-14) on Friday and Saturday.
After losing to the Magic, the Hawks won’t have any problems taking Milwaukee seriously.
“It’s not going to be a pushover game,” Millsap said. “It’s a game we’re going to have to go out and play – just like we played this last week against some of the top teams in the league. We’re going to do the same with them.”