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NBA Summer League 2017: Encouraging performances abound in Atlanta Hawks final game

See ya, Las Vegas!

2017 NBA Draft Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks finished summer league with a record of 3-2 after defeating the Rockets in Friday’s consolation game by a final score of 92-86. Coach Charles Lee decided that Taurean Prince and DeAndre’ Bembry would not play in this final game so contributions were needed from elsewhere and 26-year-old wing Trent Lockett stepped up in a big way.

Lockett entered today’s game with just 6 points on 3 of 11 from the field in 26 minutes of play. Getting the opportunity to start in this game, he had 17 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocked shots. A lot of his production came in a decisive 4th quarter in which he had 7 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocked shots and a steal. When a lot of the players for both teams looked tired his activity was a real difference maker in this win over the Rockets.

While the Hawks got a bit of an unexpected leadership type of performance from Lockett, it took a team effort to finish strong as to get out with a win and Lee said the following about the performance.

“I was proud of this whole team to be completely honest with you. I addressed with them before the game professional habits. What kind of professional habits are you guys trying to develop? And it would have been easy for them to come in today and say ‘we really aren’t playing for a championship, it’s a consolation game.’ But I thought that the competitive spirit from everybody that came into the game today was really good.”

Rookie standout John Collins was limited to 15 minutes of play and did not play in the fourth quarter. He had his roughest offensive game of summer league, making just 3 of his 9 field goal attempts. Most of his misses came in the first half as he was matched up against the Rockets 7’1 center Zhou Qi, who presented elite length such that Collins could not just dunk right over him, although there was not shortage of effort.

After halftime, you could see that Collins made an adjustment and started pinning Zhou under the basket before attacking with a shot attempt. He made 2 of his 3 field goal attempts in the 3rd quarter. He would finish his summer league action having made 32 of his 54 field goal attempts (59.3%). Maybe most importantly he had only 5 turnovers in 115 minutes of play.

His coach sounded happy with his decision making on the offensive end when prompted about Collins’ performance.

“Same ole John. I thought he played very hard, did some great things, had some almost highlight dunks that if he makes them maybe we stretch this thing out to a bigger win. But unfortunately he did not get a foul called on it or just missed a dunk and it looks like he end up 3 of 9 from the floor. But I thought he got really good looks. I thought he did a good job continuing to make the right reads and right decisions in the half roll.”

Isaia Cordinier had by far the best game of his 2017 summer league play. He had a game high 7 assists in 26 minutes. He continued to struggle with his shot (2 of 7 from the field) but was really active and made impact plays throughout his time on the court. He had 6 rebounds and 2 steals to go along with his 7 points.

Lee noted the following about the 2016 second round pick.

“This is the Isaia I remember from last year. He played very hard on defense and I really do believe he has such a great motor. He has the ability to guard 1 through 3. When his defense is locked in then all of a sudden it fuels him offensively. He is getting himself going, he’s running the floor, he’s driving and kicking. The way he played today was the Isaia I remember from last year.”

Another notable contributor in the Hawks victory was Diamond Stone, who scored 12 points and 3 rebounds. Maybe the most encouraging part of his play was his two assists. He entered Friday’s game with 0 assists and 4 turnovers. But he looked a lot more comfortable playing in the pick and roll action in this game and the result was solid production on offense.

No. 60 overall pick Alpha Kaba was extremely active against the Rockets. He had 9 points making all three of his field goal attempts and 3 of his 6 three throw attempts. On the defensive end had 3 blocked shots in just 15 minutes of play. He was also active on the offensive glass just as he has been through his summer league play.

Kaba finished with just as many offensive rebounds (9) and he did personal fouls in 56 minutes of play which is encouraging given that this is his first exposure to any type of NBA environment. To that end, Lee was quite pleased with Kaba’s performance in the closer.

“I was really happy for Alpha today to be able to finish out summer league strong. He was +22, did a great job on the offensive boards. He was a force on his rolls in pick and roll situations and defensively he altered a couple of shots. So just happy with his activity and for him to have a good day to finish it off.”

Bryce Cotton finally got his offensive game going in this contest. He had 12 points on just 8 shooting possessions. He was also active on the defensive end with 3 steals and 2 rebounds.

In the end, it took a team effort to win this game. The Hawks were outscored at the 3-point line 45-12. As to overcome that deficit Atlanta was +5 on the offensive glass, they limited themselves to 15 turnovers while forcing 21 Rockets turnovers and were much more disciplined on defense. The Rockets were whistled for 33 personal fouls while the Hawks had just 17.

Perhaps the only way to overcome a tough day shooting from the perimeter is to play at a very high level in team defensive execution as to create extra possessions and transition opportunities. In short, the Hawks were able to do that and get the six-point victory over the Rockets.