On the heels of a 10-game winless streak, the Atlanta Hawks were looking for anything to give them a spark. An unlikely change was announced shortly before the game began, when Lloyd Pierce told assembled reporters that Kent Bazemore would be coming off the bench in favor of Kevin Huerter. The shakeup worked, at least for one night, as Atlanta took down the Hornets 124-123 to break a multi-week slump that goes back to November 3.
The night started slow for the young Hawks offensively, but it was all gas and no brakes for the Hornets early on. After much being made of Trae Young’s struggles from beyond the arc last week, he was quick to respond to that criticism with two early deep threes to get the Hawks off and running. Atlanta was unable to slow down the Hornets in the first quarter, but they were at least able to keep up with Charlotte on the offensive end as they ended the first down 43-32.
The second quarter saw the Hawks do something that they haven’t done well in quite a while as the team really played some good defense to start chipping away at the Hornets 11-point lead. A solid quarter from the consistently impressive Jeremy Lin on both ends of the floor was able to pull Atlanta within just a point at the half. The second quarter also had John Collins’ fingerprints all over it as he brings a breath of fresh air back to what has become a stagnant Hawks team of late.
With the Hawks down just 66-65 coming into the third, there was a palpable sense of hope in State Farm Arena that Atlanta might be able to break their losing streak. The home team responded to the crowd’s enthusiasm with another nice quarter of play. Everyone was on their feet in a quarter that featured some more scintillating offense including this monster jam by Collins off the beautiful feed from Young.
don't.— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) November 26, 2018
The Hawks finished the quarter with some more solid run from Lin along with a superb defensive quarter by DeAndre’ Bembry and eventually took a 100-97 (no defense to be found here) lead into the final quarter. Bembry also poured in 16 points, a career high.
With things shaping up nicely for a rare Atlanta win the Hawks began their tough final test in the fourth. Collins continued to be immune to gravity early on in the quarter:
However, it was none other than old reliable, Kent Bazemore, who made the biggest impact down the stretch. Bazemore came off the bench with a couple of clutch pull-up three pointers and this nice game changing sequence turning defense into offense:
What a sequence here for Baze. Gets the block, saves the ball from going out of bounds, gets the assist on the other end. 16 pts, 5 ast, 4 reb off the bench tonight.— Chris Kirschner (@ChrisKirschner) November 26, 2018
Hawks up 114-109. pic.twitter.com/QZnJgebbpl
With the game tied and just over three minutes to go, the Hawks could taste their first win in their last 11 games. Collins apparently could feel it as well as he poured in his career-high point total with around a minute to go to put the Hawks up one. Kemba Walker stepped up huge for the Hornets with a cold-blooded shot late to put the Hornets ahead 123-122. Young missed a layup opportunity, but the Hawks were able to force a shot clock violation to get one last chance with 15 seconds remaining.
With Hornets having a foul to give Charlotte tagged Young with around ten seconds to go. On the out-of-bounds play, it was the hero of the night, Kent Bazemore, who ended up with the ball on a drive to the hoop for two that put the Hawks in position to break the streak with just four seconds remaining. Then to seal the deal, Collins rejected Walker’s final shot giving the Hawks a breathtaking 124-123 win.
Here's the final play. Kemba crossed Bembry but John Collins was there for the block. Hawks needed this one badly. pic.twitter.com/wXnhEeSXwK— Chris Kirschner (@ChrisKirschner) November 26, 2018
Young had a much, much better looking night on the stat sheet with a barrage of impressive three-pointers and assists as you can see:
Trae makes pulling up from the logo look so casual pic.twitter.com/PzBLQMx8ca— The Crossover (@TheCrossover) November 25, 2018
Call him butter. He's on a roll. pic.twitter.com/ZNTO8a2NM4— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) November 26, 2018
Young needed a game like this in the worst way and it couldn’t have come at a better time for the Hawks.
In total, the Hawks tallied a staggering 34 assists, their most all season, against just 15 turnovers. Turnovers have been a sore spot for Atlanta all year, but they were able to keep them under control in this one.
Atlanta will be back in action Tuesday night against the Heat in Miami. Stay tuned.