Pelicans best Hawks, end record win streak at 19

The longest win streak of the NBA season so far has reached its end. The New Orleans Pelicans defeated the surging Atlanta Hawks 115-100 on Monday night at Smoothie King Center to stop their 19-game winning streak, a franchise record and the fifth-longest in NBA history. The Hawks had not lost since December 26, when they fell to the Milwaukee Bucks 107-77.

The outcome was never much in doubt. The Pelicans won the first quarter 32-22 and controlled the game from there on out, not letting the visitors within single digits after the 7:43 mark of the third quarter. All-Star starter Anthony Davis returned to the court after a one-game absence and finished with 29 points and 13 rebounds (eight offensive), while his partner in the interior Omer Asik added 17 rebounds. Tyreke Evans had 15 points and 12 assists, as well.

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The Hawks' struggles in the loss point to their usual strengths and potential weaknesses down the road. Atlanta entered the game with a league-best 38.8 percent mark on threes at 9.8 made per game. They went just 7-of-22 (31.8 percent) on Monday, not a deplorable conversion rate but also indicative of how much they rely on outside shots. With only 19 assists on 40 made field goals, the Hawks also did not move the ball to their typically high standard.

However, the biggest reason for the loss was likely the Hawks' difficulty in defending and rebounding against a team with two very good interior players. Plenty of squads have struggled to defend Davis this season, but the rebounding totals (17 offensive rebounds out of 43 missed shots) speak to how effective the Pelicans were at getting second chances.

Nevertheless, a single loss after 19 straight wins should not be significant cause for alarm. At 40-9, the Hawks still boast the best record in the East by seven games and are mere percentage points behind the Golden State Warriors for the best mark in the league. It is best to focus on what the Hawks accomplished over their fantastic streak and not that they failed to extend it to an even 20 games.

The final totals are impressive. The Hawks won those 19 games by an average of 11.4 points. They also went 17-0 over January, an undefeated total never achieved before in NBA history. The streak helped the Hawks put three players in the All-Star Game, the most of any team, and Mike Budenholzer will coach the East at Madison Square Garden, too.

Given the relatively low profile for the Hawks in the preseason, this streak did not feel like peak performance as much as it did a coming out party for a conference favorite. The Pelicans proved that the Hawks are not invincible, but they still look pretty darn impressive. The rest of the league is on notice.

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Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!