Jeremy Lin scored a team-high 19 points while Trae Young added a double-double with 18 points and 10 assists.
For the Hornets, Kemba Walker unsurprisingly led the way with 29 points and seven assists while former Hawk Marvin Williams scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Key run in the fourth quarter
If you need to catch up on how this game unfolded, you can do so here...
Generally speaking, the Hawks played well in this game as strong individual performances at different periods of the game helped the Hawks stick with the Hornets and even hold the lead for parts of the contest.
Alex Len’s eight points in the first quarter, Jeremy Lin’s nine points in the first quarter, Trae Young’s 12 points in the second quarter and Kent Bazemore’s 12 points in the third quarter — all of those individual efforts at different parts of the game helping the Hawks stay in this game as the Hawks trailed by just four points heading into the final period.
But in that final period, things went downhill quickly for the Hawks. Trailing 86-87 with 8:49 remaining, the Hornets reeled off a 20-6 run and by the 3:57 mark the score is at a point where, on the first night of a back-to-back, there’s no way back from a 107-92 hole and that ended up being the case.
There were some strong performances from the Hornets in this game but Malik Monk in particular had a large say in the fourth quarter as he scored seven points and dished out five assists but the Hawks’ defense wasn’t good enough in the fourth quarter as the Hornets shot 66% from the field (14-of-21).
“Everything,” replied Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce when asked what went wrong defensively in the fourth quarter.
“When you don’t get those easy opportunities down at the other end, you can’t get settled into your defense. They were running some action for Malik Monk, he gets a lob just because we overreacted and then he’s turning the corner. We kind of get settled late and turned him over a few times but we were just scrambled, we were scrambled with some of their action in the fourth quarter.”
Let’s take a quick look at some of those plays during that 20-6 run that ultimately proved too much for the Hawks.
We’ve mentioned Malik Monk briefly, he had his fingerprints all over this stretch.
Here, he makes the cut and skies high for the lob from Tony Parker and finishes the highlight play:
On this possession, Monk and Williams link up in a pick-and-pop scenario, the Hawks focus on Monk after the screen, Dedmon is stuck in no man’s land and Monk finds the open Williams for three:
Pierce talked about his defense overreacting, and here was another example as Marvin Williams gets Bembry off of his feet, drives from the three-point line and scores the uncontested layup at the rim:
It goes without saying that when a team goes on a 20-6 run, you have problems both defensively and offensively. For the Hawks on the offensive end in that stretch, there’s not a ton to really talk about: they just couldn’t hit anything.
On this play, Bembry gets downhill on a drive and extends nicely over Parker but can’t finish the play:
Here, Kent Bazemore simply misses a contested shot with Nic Batum in close proximity:
Bazemore probably could’ve done with Alex Poythress actually setting the screen rather than slipping it but this was just one shot of a few that just didn’t fall for the Hawks in this stretch and it was ultimately key.
The Hawks played well and it was certainly a fun game to watch but the better team ultimately won in the end, and outside of this 20-6 run, this happened for a few reasons...
Second half turnovers
Arguably the biggest reason the Hawks lost this game... The Hawks committed 22 turnovers on the game leading to 31 Charlotte points.
Turnovers have been a problem for the Hawks this season but at halftime things were looking good — the Hawks sitting at just eight turnovers at halftime (five of them coming from Trae Young)...and then the second half arrived.
The Hawks committed 14 second half turnovers, which just absolutely killed their flow offensively and fuelled the Hornets.
It was quite literally a case of ‘start as you mean to go on’, as the Hawks committed two turnovers to begin the second half, off of which Charlotte scored on both occasions, leading to a quick timeout from coach Pierce.
Here was one of them, as Walker steals the ball from Trae Young and the Hornets go the other way and score with Marvin Williams hitting the long two-pointer, leading to a timeout:
Here was a particularly costly turnover as Alex Len’s pass is intercepted by Jeremy Lamb, who finds Walker the untracked in transition and Walker hits the three:
This play led to one of the better Tweets from this game (and a very true one)
When you commit a turnover, you rob yourself of the opportunity to get up a shot yourself and, in a live-ball turnover situation, give the opponent a chance to get an additional shot on the board down the other end.
Turnovers killed the Hawks, plain and simple.
“It’s a combination of everything,” said Pierce about the turnover story. “Our bigs got caught — had some great looks in the paint, (we) got caught as the defense was rotating over, we got caught stepping a little too much — we were sloppy down the end of the third quarter with the basketball. But 14 turnovers in the second half, especially when you’re not shooting as well as we’d like to shoot in the second half, that combination was tough for us and that’s why we didn’t have separation.”
Kevin Huerter’s first NBA start
With Taurean Prince out of this game with a right ankle sprain, Lloyd Pierce elected to insert rookie Kevin Huerter into the starting lineup in Prince’s place.
Let’s be honest, the box score doesn’t look amazing: seven points on 2-of-5 shooting, 0-of-2 from three, five rebounds, three assists and three steals in a team-high 32 minutes.
But that doesn’t tell the story.
Huerter, more so in the first half than the second half, had a really solid game for his first NBA start. Let’s go over it.
Not a ton of scoring for Huerter but here, Huerter does a good job taking this inside, adjusting amidst the contest at the rim and gets the friendly roll:
For Huerter’s only other field goal, he catches Malik Monk napping and makes a cut heading towards the rim and is duly (and beautifully) found by Trae Young for the score:
Huerter tallied three assists on the game, with this delivery to Alex Len in the pick-and-roll being the most impressive by far:
If you are surprised to see Huerter whip out some playmaking skills, you shouldn’t be: it was a smaller feature of his game in Maryland.
What I personally enjoyed however was Huerter’s defensive work last night: three steals and a block.
And here was said block, coming from behind to swat the attempt from Cody Zeller well out of harms way:
When it came to Huerter’s steals, he had his hands up, ready to deflect anything that might come his way.
Attempting to pass out of a double, Batum’s pass is intercepted by Huerter — who has his hands raised — and this leads to Kent Bazemore scoring the other way in transition, made possible by the steal:
Huerter produced a similar play near the end of the game as he reads the pass coming across his path from Cody Zeller, raising his hands and coming up with the steal:
“I know he was a little anxious and nervous to play but he went out and played really well,” said Young of fellow rookie Huerter.
Again, the box score won’t really tell the full story, but Huerter’s first start in the NBA was certainly a positive one. Should Taurean Prince be unable to play tonight in New York, Huerter will likely get another shot to impress in the starting lineup tonight, when he can, hopefully, attempt more than five field goals.
Trae Young vs. Kemba Walker in entertaining point guard match up
After slow starts for starting point guards Trae Young and Kemba Walker, both got going in the second quarter in a big way that was entertaining to watch.
Here are Walker’s highlights, enjoy. He’s a fun player to watch.
While Kemba was having his way in the paint before finally breaking his duck from outside the ark, Young was responding to the 2-time All-Star by scything through the Hornets defense.
Well, more so through Cody Zeller, as the Hornets switched in the second quarter/couldn’t help but switch onto Young.
Here, Young takes Zeller off of the dribble, drives right through the middle of the paint — with multiple Hornets in arms length — and scores at the rim:
Again on a switch, the Hawks clear out quickly, giving Young space to take Zeller off of the dribble and no other Hornet is close or quick enough to rotate in time after Young beats Zeller:
And just to finish off this second quarter look of Young, he rejects the screen from Dewayne Dedmon and darts inside with the drive and scores at the rim again:
“I was making the right reads,” said Young of his second quarter. “I saw a lot of lane behind the big-men, they were switching a lot, so I was trying to make plays...”
Ultimately, Walker outlasted Young over the course of the 48 minute game and was able to build on his 13 point second quarter while Young was unable to build on his own 12 point second quarter in the way Walker did, struggling to hit from the outside.
Postgame, Young reflected on the matchup against one of the better point guards in the Eastern Conference.
“It was fun,” said Young of the matchup with Walker. “I never get caught up in the one-on-one battle, it’s always my team versus his. That’s how I approached it. It’s always fun going up against one of the great point guards in our league. “
“He’s a very shifty guard,” said Young of Walker. “He’s very cerebral, very smart player. He just knows how to play, knows how to score. He’s an All-Star for a reason and a really good point guard in our league.”
A very fun matchup between two very fun guards. Looking forward to another three match-ups between the two teams, of course, sharing spots in the Southeast Division.
The Hawks (3-7) are back in action tonight at State Farm Arena for a tilt against the New York Knicks — their second of the season.
Should be...interesting to say the least.