Warriors continue chase for best record vs. Hawks
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ATLANTA -- If the Golden State Warriors manage to edge the Houston Rockets for the NBA's best regular-season record, it will likely be because of their domination of the Eastern Conference, especially on the road.
The Warriors, who trail streaking Houston by a half game for the Western Conference lead, are 21-3 against the East, including 12-1 away from home, going into Friday night's matchup against the Atlanta Hawks to conclude a three-game trip.
Golden State (48-14) followed a 126-111 win at the New York Knicks on Monday with a 109-101 victory at the Washington Wizards on Wednesday. Its only loss against an Eastern Conference team on the road came Nov. 16 at the Boston Celtics, a 92-88 decision.
Guard Klay Thompson, one of four Golden State All-Stars, voiced a lofty goal for the rest of the regular season after the victory in Washington.
"We really want to win every game going into the playoffs and, while that might be unrealistic, it would be nice to do that," Thompson said. "We're right on Houston's heels. We got a very tight race right now, so we got to try to take the lead."
The Warriors have won eight straight overall against the East since a 111-100 home slip-up against the Charlotte Hornets and can't afford a stumble against the rebuilding Hawks (19-43).
While defending champion Golden State, overshadowed for the moment by Houston's 14-game win streak, is playing for home court throughout the playoffs, the Hawks' hope is for the No. 1 choice in the draft.
The Hawks snapped a four-game losing streak with a 107-102 home win over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday and have had success in Atlanta against the West.
The Hawks are 8-4 against the opposite conference at home and had won seven straight before a 123-104 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday.
The Hawks had 13 steals and 11 blocked shots against the Pacers but almost let a 23-point lead slip away.
Guard Dennis Schroder, who had five of the steals, set the tone with his ballhawking early, then scored seven of the Hawks' final eight points.
"I put the team on my back and it started with defense," Schroder said. "I think that everybody sees that and everybody played with me. It was one of our best games defensively."
All-Star forward Kevin Durant had 32 points to lead the Warriors to their victory at Washington, making 12 of 20 shots overall and going 3 of 6 on 3-point attempts.
Durant has averaged 26.5 points on 53.2 percent shooting in the Warriors' 4-0 return from the All-Star break.
"He's been fantastic," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
The Warriors have a five-game winning streak against Hawks and have won 10 of past 11 games.
The last Hawks victory was a 124-116 home decision on Feb. 5, 2015, during Atlanta's 60-win season that led the Eastern Conference.
The Hawks, who had gone to the playoffs for 10 straight years before tearing down this season, play at Golden State on March 23.
Updated March 1, 2018