The road was not kind for the Atlanta Hawks, culminating in a blowout loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday afternoon. However, State Farm Arena proved to be a much friendlier venue on Tuesday evening, as the Hawks put together a strong performance in a 118-110 win over the Washington Wizards.
Though the Hawks have been infamous for struggles (to put it mildly) in the opening quarter this season, none of those issues arrived in this game. In fact, Atlanta came out of the gate firing on all cylinders, with a Kent Bazemore five-point spurt at the outset and a 12-0 overall run.
Guess who scored first? pic.twitter.com/TfXcm9nw8S— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) December 19, 2018
The home team pushed their advantage to 18-5 at one point and, despite some early foul trouble for John Collins, Atlanta was able to maintain control for most of the opening period. Washington did climb within four points but, after back-to-back threes from Trae Young and Dewayne Dedmon, the Hawks restored order and took an 11-point lead after 12 minutes.
In a refreshing change, Lloyd Pierce’s team was able to make shots (50 percent from the floor and 43 percent from three) in the first quarter and Young was wildly efficient. The rookie guard scored 11 points (including two threes) without missing a field goal attempt and, on the other end, Atlanta’s defense held the Wizards to just 5 of 18 shooting.
Tonight may be one of those Trae nights. pic.twitter.com/g2Lia9Gd7h— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) December 19, 2018
The second quarter was not as forgiving, however, as the Wizards awakened to some degree as Atlanta’s offense scuffled. Washington almost immediately cut the edge to seven and, with the ball not going through the basket, the visitors chipped away at the lead. By the halftime break, the Hawks led by only four points (at 58-54) and it was ugly offense in the second quarter that was responsible.
Atlanta made only 6 of 18 shots in the second quarter, including 1 of 8 from three, and the team issued eight turnovers for good measure. Fortunately, the team was able to make 10 of 11 free throws to stay afloat but, with Bradley Beal taking over (13 points in the quarter), the Hawks were likely fortunate to remain ahead on the scoreboard.
In similar fashion, the start of the second half was not favorable, as the Hawks missed their first four shots and the Wizards took the lead on a 6-0 run. Things did stabilize from there (as a parade of fouls were committed on both ends) and, despite Atlanta making just 10 of 34 shots combined between the second and third quarters, they were able to escape in a tie game as the closing period arrived.
The third quarter was an unmistakable slog but, early in the fourth, fireworks arrived and the play of the night was engineered by the trio of Jeremy Lin, DeAndre’ Bembry and Bazemore.
DON'T DO THEM LIKE THAT, J-LIN. pic.twitter.com/DRpyCwVCWy— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) December 19, 2018
That long-range connection put the Hawks in front and, moments later, Bazemore and Collins connected on a lob that extended the home team’s lead to seven points. Following a timeout from the Wizards, Lin found Dedmon for another dunk to push the lead to its highest point in the second half at 99-90 and the veteran point guard wasn’t done there.
Lin scored 10 points in the first six minutes of the closing period to aid in Atlanta’s push and, when Kevin Huerter buried a corner three with 5:16 left, the Hawks capped a 9-2 run to build a 13-point lead. Moments later, Lin scored again and, when Huerter canned another three (at the 3:39 mark), the final result was sealed. There was a bit of scare in the final seconds, with Washington climbing within a seven-point margin, but Atlanta managed to hold them off on the way to the final tally.
All told, Lin scored 12 points in the fourth quarter alone and there was buzz in the building as a result.
We're currently re-living the whole Linsanity thing. Folks inside State Farm Arena have approved greatly. pic.twitter.com/i5gTqXEYoy— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) December 19, 2018
There were a few bright spots for Atlanta, led by Lin’s heroics and his productive overall night. The veteran guard finished with 16 points, four assists and three rebounds on the evening, and he was flanked by 20 points and 13 rebounds from Collins. Elsewhere, Young enjoyed an efficient performance with 19 points (with 5 of 11 shooting and 3 of 6 from three) and four assists, with 15 points from Len and seven players in double-figures for the Hawks.
Following this brief stop in their own backyard, the Hawks will now hit the road again to square off with the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Friday. Stay tuned.