The Atlanta Hawks game against the Golden State Warriors was so good it could not be contained to the standard 48 minutes allotted in regulation, going to not one but two overtime sessions and ultimately falling 143-141 in a bout that came down to the last shot all the way to the end and saw the Hawks battle back from being down by as many as 21 points.
At the same time, the Warriors were missing both Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins. They were also riding a four-game winning streak. Perhaps the Hawks paid more attention to who wasn’t playing for Golden State than who was, allowing Klay Thompson to go off for 50 points.
Atlanta was missing Clint Capela but was still able to outscore the Warriors 72-58 in the paint, not as if it made much of a difference.
All of the events left Capela’s stand-in, Onyeka Okongwu with little to say.
Onyeka Okongwu has NSFW reaction to Atlanta Hawks’ loss
The third-year big man finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds, and three blocks adding two steals and an assist for good measure. It’s his fourth straight start in Capela’s place (eighth overall) and his third straight game with at least 16 points. He is averaging 17 points and 11 boards while leading the team in field goal percentage (59%) in that span.
But even he had to resort to a one-word reaction on social media following his team’s latest confounding loss.
This season was expected to be a big one for Okongwu in terms of his development. He vowed to come back with a jump shot and he has, knocking down 50% of his looks from eight to 24 feet out.
Former Hawks president Travis Schlenk challenged him to be a better defensive rebounder.
Okongwu has done that too with 4.4 per game this season, adding nearly a full defensive board to last year’s mark but he wasn’t on the floor for the final play.
The Hawks got some strong offensive performances on the night. But their defense, particularly on the perimeter, was lacking from the outset as they gave up 38 points in the first quarter which they answered by outscoring Golden State 42-25 in the third quarter, a frame that had been a problem area for the Hawks.
Capela’s absence has been noticeable whenever he has to miss an extended period of time and, despite his struggles at the free-throw line, he gives the Hawks extra chances.
They were outrebounded 69-53 without him against the Warriors.
It is no secret that he is a vital piece of the puzzle at this point, though. And this isn’t to say that Okongwu didn’t put forth a valiant effort. But the Hawks are a different team with Capela who boasts the third-best net rating on the team, per Cleaning The Glass.
Next up for the Hawks on their West Coast road trip is a visit to former Hawks sniper Kevin Huerter and the Sacramento Kings who still rank seventh in three-point attempts per game despite cutting down on their attempts from long range considerably from their scorching-hot start to the season.