November 11, 1970 -- Progress comes slowly for most expansion teams. The Buffalo Braves found that out the hard way.
Yes, they had a successful debut, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers (another expansion team) in the opener at Memorial Auditorium. Then they lost their next nine games, including two to the Portland Trailblazers … a third expansion team.
Buffalo ended that bad stretch with a win against Cleveland, another bump for the Cavs on their way to a dreadful 15-67 season. But the Braves still hadn't beaten a team that had been around for more than a month yet.
That changed on this night. The Atlanta Hawks came to town, and left with a 134-118 defeat. A month into their first regular season, the Buffalo Braves took a baby step forward. They defeated the Atlanta Hawks, 134-118. That was the first time that the Braves had ever beaten an established NBA team.
The Hawks didn't have a bad team that season in terms of talent. They had such players as Lou Hudson, Bill Bridges, Walt Hazzard and Walt Bellamy, and added talented rookie Pete Maravich. However, the pieces never came together for the Hawks, who stumbled to a 36-46 records that season.
The Braves' winning streak ended two nights later in Philadelphia. Buffalo won three in a row in January, and finished with a 22-60 record.
--- Budd Bailey