The Atlanta Hawks climbed back to the top of the NBA standings by leaning on their depth and balance for a 124-116 victory over Western Conference leader Golden State on Friday night in Atlanta.
Seven Hawks scored in double figures to outmatch the one-two backcourt combination of All-Star guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who combined for 55 points and were the only Warriors in double figures.
“I think we share the ball more than they do,” said Atlanta point guard Dennis Schroder, who had nine points and seven assists off the bench. “I think that’s why we won the game.”
The Hawks (42-9, .824) passed the Warriors (39-9, .813) for the league’s best record.
It was tempting for all -- with the possible exception of Hawks Coach Mike Budenholzer -- to view the game as a possible NBA Finals preview.
“I don’t think one bit about that,” Budenholzer said without a smile after the game.
All-Star point guard Jeff Teague had 23 points to lead the Hawks. Nine of the 11 points Teague scored in the fourth quarter came on free throws.
All-Star center Al Horford had 12 points and 14 rebounds, despite playing only eight minutes in the second half because of foul trouble, and All-Star forward Paul Millsap added 21 points.
“They were good,” Warriors Coach Steve Kerr said of the Hawks. “They were better than us. We broke down defensively. They had a lot to do with that because of the way they stretch you out.”
All-Star power forward Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans hurt his right shoulder on a hard fall after he dunked against the Chicago Bulls late in the first half Saturday and did not return to the game.
Davis was running hard in transition as guard Tyreke Evans floated a lob toward the hoop. With Chicago’s Tony Snell trailing closely, Davis converted a soaring two-handed dunk, but momentum caused his body to swing like a pendulum as he grabbed the rim. He then fell horizontally as he lost his grip, landing on his right side.
After remaining prone for about a minute, Davis got up and briefly tried to keep playing before taking himself out.
The Sacramento Kings are engaged in serious negotiations with George Karl about their head coaching position, the Sacramento Bee reported.
Assistant Tyrone Corbin replaced Michael Malone on Dec. 14 after the Kings faltered to a 2-8 record. The plan was to have Corbin complete the season, conduct an extensive coaching search, and give the incoming coach the benefit of an entire offseason and training camp.
Besides Karl, an ESPN analyst who is known for dramatically improving franchises, particularly in Denver, Seattle and Milwaukee, the list of future candidates is known to include current NBA assistants Alvin Gentry and Nate McMillan, along with head coaches whose job security is thought to be tenuous, among them Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks.
Oklahoma City center Kendrick Perkins was suspended for one game without pay by the NBA on Saturday for initiating and making head-to-head contact with New Orleans’ Tyreke Evans.
The incident occurred in the first quarter of the Thunder’s 116-113 home loss to the Pelicans on Friday night. Perkins and Evans were called for technical fouls on the play.
Perkins will miss the Thunder’s home game Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
A biker, not a dunker
When the media noticed Houston’s Dwight Howard riding an exercise bike at practice recently, Rockets Coach Kevin McHale was asked for his impression about his center’s movement, considering Howard has been sidelined with a right knee injury. “If it were the Tour de France, the bike is a fantastic thing,” McHale said. “Playing basketball, I’m not sure.”
Jack the wordsmith
After Brooklyn won back-to-back games, including an impressive 16-point win at Toronto, Nets guard Jarrett Jack got a chance to show off his vocabulary while talking about his team perhaps getting its act together after going 3-10 in January. “I thought we were right there. We were on the cusp, I felt,” he said. “I always wanted to use that word: cusp.”
After Milwaukee beat the Lakers in overtime, Bucks forward Jared Dudley decided it was time for a name change. “We just grinded it out. That’s our new nickname, the Milwaukee Grinders,” Dudley said. “We are patenting it right now. Not, ‘Fear the Deer,’ but, ‘Fear the Grind.’ ”
GAME OF THE WEEK
Cleveland at Chicago
When: Thursday, 5 PST. TV: TNT
Many still believe the Cavaliers or Bulls will come out of the Eastern Conference. Cleveland won the first two of the four meetings this season between the Central Division rivals. The sky is no longer falling in Cleveland, not with LeBron James playing at an MVP level and Kyrie Irving looking as if he’s one of the best point guards in the NBA and with the Cavaliers winning at a high clip. Meanwhile, the Bulls have been hard to read. Derrick Rose looks healthy, but he’s shooting the ball horribly, and the Bulls have been wildly inconsistent — including a recent win at Golden State and then losing to the lowly Lakers.