After four straight losses, the Atlanta Hawks arrived at State Farm Arena on Saturday with a bit of additional motivation. 48 minutes later, the team stopped the bleeding of an active losing streak with a competitive (and entertaining) 123-118 win over the Miami Heat.
Before tip-off, the Hawks unleashed a bit of a surprise (albeit a mild one), as rookie big man Omari Spellman got the first start of his NBA career, replacing Vince Carter at the 4.
Omari Spellman’s first intro as a starter. pic.twitter.com/yApWZ64ieE— Kevin Chouinard (@KLChouinard) November 3, 2018
Though the addition of Spellman can’t be credited for everything that transpired offensively in the early going, the first-year player from Villanova did perform well. Atlanta opened the evening with an 11-4 run, including a trio of threes from Trae Young, Alex Len and Spellman, and the team started the night making seven of their first nine three-point attempts.
The Heat did fight back but the Hawks unleashed another 11-3 run later in the first period to take a nine-point lead and, eventually, the home team pushed the margin to 10 at the end of 12 minutes. In fact, Atlanta scored 50 (!) points in the first 15 minutes of the game and offense certainly wasn’t the problem before halftime.
Miami did put together a 16-5 spurt to get within one late in the second quarter but the Hawks managed to slide into halftime with a six-point advantage and that was fitting of the way the team played offensively. Prior to the break, Atlanta shot 60 percent from the floor (including 11 of 21 from three) and posted a 143.8 offensive rating that would make any coach happy.
On the other end, the defense struggled mightily, allowing Miami to stay within striking distance on the back of a 132.2 offensive rating in their own right. Still, the strong work of Dewayne Dedmon (11 points, five rebounds), Taurean Prince (12 points), Young (9 points, 9 assists) and others allowed the home team to keep the edge.
There were a number of highlights in an action-packed half, beginning with the always entertaining play of Dedmon.
Vince Carter also enjoyed a strong performance in the early going, with a pair of beautiful finishes at the rim that pleased his teammates.
Vince put the Hawks over the 40-point mark in the first quarter and his teammates loved it. pic.twitter.com/uWcgvQgOWB— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) November 4, 2018
As noted above, Young contributed in a big way, playing under control and distributing to teammates, while also securing his own offense.
After the break, the offense kept rolling, with Young connecting on a memorable bomb to Kevin Huerter.
Trae Young to Kevin Huerter for the touchdown! pic.twitter.com/DRDNKzH1v1— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) November 4, 2018
Young continued his offensive explosion with two more beautiful finds for dunks.
Miami connected on a three to open the third quarter but, after that, the Hawks scored the next 12 points to take full command with a 15-point lead. Seemingly on cue, though, the Heat responded with a 7-0 run to slash the margin and, eventually, worked the deficit down to just two points. Young (again) led something of a late-quarter push, however, scoring the final four points (in 33 seconds) as the Hawks took a nine-point lead into the closing period.
In on-brand fashion, the Heat did respond with immediate fireworks, scoring the first five points of the fourth quarter and threatening to reclaim the advantage. While the Hawks did not immediately succumb, Miami did use a 10-3 run to take the lead at 111-110 and with less than seven minutes to go, the game was very much in the balance.
The Hawks then scored four straight to force a Miami timeout and it was Vince Carter placing an exclamation point on the mini-run.
There was plenty of drama to come, though, as the game was knotted at 116-116 with 3:39 remaining. After a flagrant foul was assessed to Miami’s Justise Winslow, Young converted two free throws and, moments later, Carter greatly aided in what became an Atlanta victory.
The veteran knocked down a jumper to give the Hawks the lead at 120-118 and then produced a steal that turned into a Kent Bazemore bucket on the other end. From there, it was an ugly back and forth from both teams for much of the final three minutes, but Carter’s three throw with 17 seconds remaining gave Atlanta a five-point lead they would never relinquish on the way to the final, five-point margin.
Young led the way for the Hawks, scoring 24 points (on 9 of 19 shooting), dishing out a game-high 15 assists and collecting five rebounds in a very strong performance. In support, Dedmon (15 points, seven rebounds, two blocks), Carter (12 points), Huerter (12 points) and others played well, with seven members of the roster scoring in double-figures to secure an offense-driven victory.
Up next, the Hawks will have two days to rest before squaring off with the Charlotte Hornets (on the road) on Tuesday evening. Stay tuned.