Give the Trail Blazers credit. At least they didn’t fall behind by 10 or more points.
The Hawks ran their current win streak to 18 games with Friday’s 105-99 victory over the Trail Blazers. In each of the previous 17 wins, the Hawks held a double-digit lead at some point during the game. Against the Trail Blazers, the Hawks’ largest lead was six points.
The Hawks, who have also won 32 of their past 34 games, now have the best record in the NBA. The Warriors lost Friday to the Jazz for their second straight loss. The Hawks (39-8, .830) lead by 1-1/2 games over the Warriors (36-8, .818).
Here are my five observations from the win over the Trail Blazers:
1. The Hawks’ current 18-game run is tied for the ninth longest overall and eight longest single-season win streak in NBA history. Of the 10 other teams to have won 18 straight in a single season, seven went on to win the NBA Championship. Here is the list:
1. 33: Lakers (1971-72)*
2. 27: Heat (2012-13)*
3 .22: Rockets (2007-08)
4. 20: Bucks (1970-71)*
5. (tie) 19: Spurs (2013-14)*
5. (tie) 19: Celtics (2008-09)
5. (tie) 19: Lakers (1999-00)*
8. (tie) 18: Bulls (1995-96)*
8. (tie) 18: Celtics (1981-82)
8. (tie) 18: Knicks (1969-70)*
8. (tie) 18: Hawks (2014-15)#
* – Won NBA title
# – Current
2. Trail Blazers All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge was outstanding with 37 points and 11 rebounds. He entered the game averaging 23.6 points per game, sixth best in the NBA. He had 21 points by halftime. However, the biggest concern was Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard, who was clearly angered by his double All-Star snub (not a reserve or replacement). The Hawks held him to 13 points on 6 of 20 shooting. In the Hawks’ two wins over the Trail Blazers this season, Lillard combined for 29 points on 13 of 38 shooting, including 3 of 15 from 3-point range.
3. There was a lot of concern when the Hawks’ two offseason acquisitions were Thabo Sefolosha and Kent Bazemore. However, the depth of the two wing defenders is clearly evident in the Hawks success. With DeMarre Carroll sidelined with a left Achilles strain, Sefolosha started by played just 2:12 before suffering a right calf strain. Bazemore entered and played a career-high 40 minutes. The Hawks are now 4-2 in games without Carroll. They were 1-8 without Carroll last season. Depth matters.
4. The Hawks continue to use the 3-pointer as a major weapon, especially to put teams away. The Hawks were 11 of 23 from beyond the arc against the Trail Blazers. It was big fourth-quarter 3-pointers by Mike Scott and Paul Millsap in the final five minutes that ended any notion of a Trail Blazers comeback.
5. Finally, to illustrate how dominate the Hawks have been during this streak we steal a factoid from the great AJC columnist Mark Bradley. The Hawks entered the fourth quarter against the Trail Blazers trailing 74-69. It was the first time since the 8:04 mark of the Dec. 27 game at the Bucks that the Hawks trailed in the fourth quarter – 17 games and 33 days ago. The Hawks went on to win that game too.