Warriors-Hawks Preview

It’s been a much different story for the Atlanta Hawks and

Golden State Warriors since they met a month ago.

Both these teams are among the NBA’s biggest surprises, and the

Hawks will try to earn a split of the season series with a Warriors

team that’s wrapping up a seven-game road trip Saturday night.

Not much was expected from either team in 2012-13, with Atlanta

(14-6) losing six-time All-Star Joe Johnson to Brooklyn and Golden

State (15-8) entering off four straight losing seasons.

The Hawks, however, are tied with Miami for the Southeast

Division lead.

“Wins and losses, I’m very happy with where we are,” coach

Larry Drew said. “I thought this first quarter of the season we

came together pretty well.”

The Warriors are off to their best start since 1991-92 and sit 1

1/2 games behind the first-place Clippers in the Pacific.

Atlanta was 3-3 and Golden State 3-4 when these teams met Nov.

14 in Oakland, where the Warriors won 92-88 behind rookie Harrison

Barnes’ 19 points and 13 boards.

This rematch figures to be different since the Hawks’ Al Horford

and Devin Harris were sidelined by stomach illnesses. That’s the

only contest missed by Horford, who is averaging 18.9 points in

seven games against the Warriors, his highest against any opponent

and 5.9 better than his career mark.

Atlanta can also expect a more potent effort from the Golden

State backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who combined

for 19 points on 6-of-23 shooting the last time. Curry is averaging

21.8 points during an 8-2 run by the Warriors while Thompson

averaged 20.0 on the first five games of this road trip before he

was held to nine in Friday’s 99-85 loss to Orlando.

That defeat ended a five-game win streak to begin this trip for

the Warriors, whose only two losses in their last 10 have been to

the Magic. Curry scored a game-high 25 points.

“I don’t know exactly how to stop them,” Curry said.

“Thankfully, we don’t have to play them again.”

Golden State never led after the first quarter and trailed by 16

at the half.

“It was one of those nights where we were expecting a run,”

coach Mark Jackson said. “A run of stops, a run of scores and it

never happened. … We never got into a danger zone where we felt

like the game was ours.”

David Lee finished with 24 points and 15 boards, marking the

career-best sixth straight game he has had at least 20 points and

10 rebounds.

The Hawks have won 11 of 13 since losing to the Warriors. They

cruised past Charlotte 113-90 on Thursday.

Josh Smith is leading Atlanta with 17.3 points per game while

Horford is second with a career-best 16.3. The chemistry between

the two seems to be better this season.

“I think we complement each other real well,” Horford said. “I

think Josh is an unselfish player. I’m an unselfish player as well.

I think we just want to win. I really want to win in the worst way

and we’re making it work with the team.”

The Hawks are among the NBA’s top defensive teams, allowing 93.1

points per game and limiting opponents to 43.7 percent