Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce tasted defeat for the first time as his Hawks side fell 120-110 against the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night at FedEx Forum.
If you’re unfamiliar with how I usually handle games, I prefer to break it down into its finer components. You’ll see how it works very quickly, and we won’t spend a ton of time here today because, let’s be honest, the game was pretty poor from the Hawks’ perspective — not a ton to talk about but stuff to talk about nevertheless.
Let’s briefly talk about the game itself.
The Hawks conceded 34 first quarter points but rallied in the second quarter to come right back at the Grizzlies but a poor end to the second quarter left the Hawks down by nine points at the half and a quick run by the Grizzlies pushed the lead to double digits, eventually being extended to over 20 points — 29 points at the start of the fourth quarter
The key run was that end of 2Q, beginning of 3Q run that put the Hawks on the back-foot and too much to recover from. But, look, after all this is preseason. You shouldn’t really be upset at wins/losses and take everything with a grain of salt.
Tyler Dorsey stepping in and up
Taurean Prince was ruled out of this game due to illness and in his place stepped up Tyler Dorsey. In a successful outing in the starting lineup, Dorsey scored a team-high 18 points (hitting four three-pointers) while grabbing six rebounds and dishing out two assists.
Dorsey was efficient and effective from outside the ark (shooting 4-of-9) and this three-pointer coming off of a broken play where Dorsey has to set himself in the corner and pull the trigger before the defense closed him out was very impressive:
October 6, 2018
Dorsey also did some ball-handling in the pick-and-roll, cashing in on a mid-range jumper coming off of the screen by Alex Len:
Dorsey being able to handle the ball, execute a pick-and-roll, come off of it and convert is important. He’s obviously not going to be handling the ball a ton but if he’s able to do this, able to make these shots and run the offense for a possession or two when the team throw him the ball, that’s a nice step made for Dorsey. You can also see the improvement in his jump shot — looks a lot smoother, and I think that was reflective in some of the shots he made last night.
Defensively, he showed some improvements but was beaten by Dillon Brooks a little too often but still showed better overall defense than he did in his rookie season.
It’s obviously an extremely small sample size and you shouldn’t get too carried away (because he’s not starting every night nor playing 29 minutes a game), but the work Tyler Dorsey has put in over the summer is already paying dividends (and, if he continues, should also help him obtain dividends — Dorsey is a restricted free agent next summer).
A strong start for Dorsey, building on his strong Summer League campaign.
With the Hawks’ first pre-season game against the Pelicans not televised, last night’s Grizzlies game gave Hawks fans their first opportunity to see rookies Trae Young, Kevin Huerter and Omari Spellman in action.
Let’s start with Young.
It was another difficult night shooting from the field in terms of efficiency for Young — 15 points on 4-of-10 shooting from the field and 1-of-5 from behind the arc. It has to be said, Young wasn’t ultra aggressive in looking for his own shot, particularly from the outside. Young, instead, seem to emphasize penetration as a means of both scoring and facilitating.
Here, you can see Young consider pulling up from 27-odd feet, elects against it, exchanges a quick hand-off to regain his dribble (having killed it initially thinking he was going to shoot) and drives inside and draws the foul:
Young got to the free throw line six times, earning a trip from the above play. But interesting to see Young turn down these kind of threes, threes he would’ve took without a moment’s hesitation in college — it definitely looks like a case of ‘letting the game come to him’ when it comes outside shots.
In addition to getting to the rim/line from drives, it opened up opportunities for others, Young finding Alex Poythress for three after this nice drive-and-kick:
Young finished with five assists on the night. All in all for Young, a mixed bag. You’d like to see him shoot a little more efficiently but you can pin part of that on Mike Conley — that’s not an easy point guard to break down, and if you do there’s a backline of one of Marc Gasol, JaMychal Green (who spiked a shot of DeAndre’ Bembry’s all the way down to South Pole) and Jaren Jackson Jr.
19th overall selection Kevin Huerter didn’t have as fun a time — three points on 1-of-4 shooting from the field, 1-of-3 from three. Huerter struggled to make an impact on the game in his 17 minutes and looked pretty bad defensively at times.
Important to bear in mind that Huerter is not long cleared after a wrist injury kept him sidelined for the majority of the summer — so perhaps it’s no surprise he would be a little shaky to begin.
Omari Spellman had an interesting game — five points on 2-of-8 shooting, 1-of-5 from three and grabbed nine rebounds. Spellman definitely brought energy as advertised, converting at the rim on this broken play:
Omari Spellman with an opportunistic +1. He is bringing the energy in his preseason debut. pic.twitter.com/8jw5vhCIoz— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) October 6, 2018
He brought energy crashing the glass too, grabbing four offensive rebounds. But what he gave with his effort, he gave back with his inexperience — committing multiple loose-ball fouls that led to Memphis free throws (who shot 42 free throw in the end) and various other errors that one should expect of a rookie.
Spellman was definitely active in his time on the court and, despite his errors leading to multiple Memphis points, should be encouraged by this start — you can see why the Hawks were enamored with his energy pre-draft, he certainly brings it.
We’ll fly through some quick hitters, other various parts of the game that can be covered in a sentence or two.
- John Collins played just 12 minutes last night, resting for the entirety of the second half. No injury worries for Collins, the Hawks are obviously just monitoring Collins in preseason. Collins scored four points.
- I mentioned the Grizzlies shot 42 free throws...the Hawks shot 32. This large number of free throws was due to fact that 65 (!!) personal fouls were called by the officials during the game, who are calling off-ball contact a lot more harshly this year in a point of emphasis. This not only killed momentum for both teams, but meant the game totalled almost two and a half hours. For a preseason game. Ludicrous. But get used to it.
- Vince Carter made his Hawks last night and featured at power forward during the first quarter with the second unit — along with Spellman, Bembry, Lin and Huerter. Vince wasn’t shy about getting some shots up in that first quarter and hit two three-pointers, finishing with eight points.
- After a strong game against New Orleans, it was a rough drop back to reality for DeAndre’ Bembry, who looked poor on the court last night. Poor offense (out of control at times in addition to committing five turnovers), poor fouls committed, poor defense at times...he looked, dare I say, utterly lost at times. He was really, really poor, which was disappointing to see
- We saw a snippet of what the Hawks wanted to do behind the arc in Summer League under Pierce: jack threes. That trend continued as the Hawks threw up 43 three-pointers last night, making 16 of them. The aforementioned Tyler Dorsey hit four of those.
- Alex Len started at center for the Hawks last night with Dedmon currently sidelined. The Hawks have wanted to expand Len’s game toward the perimeter and that is bearing some early fruit as Len hit two three-pointers from the two opposite corners. An encouraging start for Len as he scored 10 points.
- Oh yeah, Miles Plumlee dunked on someone:
Honestly. Number 12 wasn't ready for Miles Plumlee. pic.twitter.com/evY1uJZHFX— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) October 6, 2018
Poor lad. Not only has Miles Plumlee dunked on him, but the official Hawks Twitter called him ‘Number 12’ rather than use his name. His name is Yuta Watanabe, and it won’t always be like this in the NBA, I promise...
Next up for the Hawks on their preseason journey is a trip to Tulsa and a reunion with Dennis Schröder and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday.
I’m expecting him to drop 40. You can decide for yourself if I refer to points or the number of shots taken...