The Skinny: The Hawks jumped out to a 13-4 lead using their quickness against the sluggish Nets. Atlanta started red hot from the field, hitting 11 of their first 19 shots while the Nets managed just nine of their first 24. Yet, the Nets surprisingly only trailed by seven after the first quarter. Brooklyn scored 18 of its 20 points in the paint and was 0-for-5 collectively from three-point range.
Atlanta orchestrated a 12-0 run spanning the quarters as the Hawks opened a 14-point lead. Following a P.J. Carlesimo timeout, the Nets started to find their groove, as the “Bench Mob” went on an 11-4 run. Playing in Atlanta for the first time since being traded, Joe Johnson didn’t hit his first field goal until the 4:56 mark of the second quarter. Hawks’ center Al Horford had a double-double in the first half with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Every time Brooklyn seemed like it would cut into the deficit, the Hawks answered right back and led by 16 at the break.
The Hawks kept up their torrid pace, as the Nets had no answer for the fast-paced style and trailed by 26 at one point. Brooklyn actually made a decent run late in the third quarter to cut the lead to 15. But the Hawks kept draining shots from the field and led by 19 after three.
Atlanta opened the fourth quarter maintaining its hot hand, but Brooklyn made another run to trail by 12 with 7:43 remaining. But the Hawks really never broke a sweat down the stretch and cruised to the win.
High Scorers: Jeff Teague led all scorers with 28 points on 12-of-18 shooting and dished out 11 assists for the double-double. For the Nets, Brook Lopez led the way with 22 points on 10-of-14 from the field and pulled down nine boards.
Key Stats: The Hawks held a 27-10 advantage in fast-break points. Brooklyn shot just 4-of-26 (15 percent) from beyond the arch.
Who Was Hot: Horford finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Zaza Pachulia also recorded a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds and was just two assists shy of a triple-double. Kris Humphries scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Andray Blatche was 6-of-7 from the field for 12 points.
Who Was Not: Johnson and Deron Williams struggled from the floor, combining on 9-of-33 for 27 points. Keith Bogans took six three-point attempts and missed them all.
Fun Fact: The Nets are 14-3 this season when Johnson scores at least 18 points, while the team is just 9-13 when he scores 17 or fewer. He managed 15 in his return to Atlanta.
So the NBA-best seven-game winning streak has come to an end, but the way it ended was downright ugly.
The Nets found their energy midway through the fourth quarter, which was obviously too late. Sure, they played Tuesday night, but to be embarrassed by a team that had lost six of its last seven games is tough, especially since these teams will be playing each other again Friday as part of a home-and-away series.
The Hawks must have had plenty of pent up energy, as they themselves were embarrassed Monday by the Bulls. Atlanta scored 56 points in the first half in this one after scoring 58 points total in their loss to Chicago.
But even without Josh Smith (team suspension), the Hawks never trailed in this game, and all five starters finished in double figures. Devin Harris played well against his former team with 18 points, five assists and a +24 rating. Maybe he wanted to impress the Nets after the team dealt him for Williams.
The Nets came into the game averaging 108.0 points per game in January – the highest mark in the league – but cold outside shooting (37-of-87, 43 percent) led to just 95 points.
The loss was the first in 2013, and the Nets have now lost six straight games overall to the Hawks and eight straight against the Hawks on the road. Atlanta has also won 11 of the past 13 matchups between these teams.
Brooklyn (23-16) hosts these same Hawks Friday night at Barclays Center before starting a four-game road trip. The 7:30 p.m. game will be televised on the YES Network.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.