ATLANTA – After a far-from-perfect performance, the Atlanta Hawks head into February with the NBA's best record and savoring a bit of NBA history as the first team to go 17-0 within a calendar month.
The Hawks stretched their overall winning streak to 19 straight with a gritty 91-85 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, blowing a 21-point lead.
In the end, it was yet another triumph for a team that hasn't lost since the day after Christmas.
"We are a resilient group," All-Star center Al Horford said.
According to STATS, the Hawks (40-8) are the first team in NBA history to win 17 games without a loss over a single month. Four teams have put together a 16-0 mark.
Also, the 19-game streak is tied for the fifth-longest in a season. The Hawks will travel to New Orleans on Monday looking to make it 20, which would match the 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks. The only longer streaks in NBA history were by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers (33 in a row), 2012-13 Miami Heat (27) and 2007-08 Houston Rockets (22).
The Hawks are banged up as they enter a new month but confident their depth will help overcome injuries to Thabo Sefolosha, DeMarre Carroll and Shelvin Mack.
Sefolosha, who backed up Carroll at small forward, is expected to miss six to eight weeks with a right calf injury, costing the Hawks one of their top defensive players. Carroll missed the past two games with a left Achilles injury, and it's not known when he'll return. Mack, a backup point guard, has missed six games with a left calf strain and could be out another week.
"We're confident in one to 15 here," Horford said. "Guys really put in the time. Guys work every day. They just don't get the opportunity because were so deep. We have guys who can play. It's just the way it is with this team."
After the Pelicans (25-22), the Hawks return home to face Washington (31-17) on Wednesday before a much-anticipated game against West-leading Golden State (37-8) on Friday. The Warriors held the top record in the NBA for much of the season but were passed by the streaking Hawks in the past week.
Portland star Damian Lillard is certainly impressed by the Hawks, who swept the season series against the Trail Blazers.
"They take advantage of teams' mistakes," he said. "They are constantly in the passing lane, and they keep their hands active, creating more possessions for themselves and taking other possessions away from the other team. They execute offensively and they play together. There's a reason why" they've won 19 in a row.