On the heels of two lopsided defeats, optimism was fading (least in some corners) with regard to the Atlanta Hawks. Then, Sunday night arrived and, after 48 minutes, the Trae Young hype train was speeding out of control and the Hawks were no longer winless, after a 133-111 bludgeoning of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The early going was not kind to Atlanta and the ugliness polluted both ends of the floor. The Cavaliers took what appeared to be a commanding 22-7 lead in the opening minutes and, in general, Atlanta’s defense was lacking in allowing the Cavs to shoot 58 percent in the opening quarter, but the Hawks did compete offensively (including six threes in the first 12 minutes) to stay within striking distance.
Fortunately, the visiting team did begin waking up from there, including some impressive ball movement to create an open three for Omari Spellman.
In addition, fellow rookie Kevin Huerter got into the act, contributing five rebounds and two assists before halftime, to go along with his first NBA three.
Take a moment to savor Kevin Huerter's first NBA three. There will be many more. pic.twitter.com/jBzk60ijly— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) October 21, 2018
The biggest story, though, was the play of Trae Young, who was spectacular in the second quarter. Young scored 18 points in the period (and 21 in the half) while making six of his seven shot attempts and his contributions came in a variety of ways.
Buoyed by Young, Kent Bazemore, Alex Len and others, the Hawks put together a 20-6 run to tie the game midway through the second quarter and they weren’t done there. In fact, Atlanta took a four-point advantage into the break and, given what transpired at the outset, that was virtually unthinkable.
The Hawks pushed the lead to as many as nine points early in the third quarter and, picking up where he left off, Young continued to cook.
By the end of the third quarter, the Hawks were (still) leading by a four-point margin and Young had 30 points and eight assists, including a buzzer-beating dime to a cutting Spellman.
At the end of the third quarter, Trae Young has 30 points and 8 assists. pic.twitter.com/zAmC2LbFP5— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) October 21, 2018
The fourth quarter was equally enjoyable, as the Hawks used an 11-0 run to effectively put the game away. Young was fantastic but, in support, Kent Bazemore got into the act with high-level play and shot-making.
Once the Hawks pushed the lead to 20+ in the closing minutes, the final result on the scoreboard was not in much doubt. That allowed onlookers to enjoy the festivities and, in short, this was a fun night at the office.
All told, Young finished with 35 points (on 13 of 23 shooting) and 11 assists, becoming the first member of the organization to reach the 35-point mark as a rookie since John Drew in 1975. Bazemore finished with 23 points, five rebounds and four assists, and Alex Len (16 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks) added a stellar performance in the middle.
The Hawks will return home for the opening of State Farm Arena on Wednesday evening and, of course, Luka Doncic will be in town as a member of the Dallas Mavericks. Before the hysteria arrives, however, Trae Young had a fantastic evening on Sunday and fun was had by all.