The Hawks were in Sacramento on Thursday night for their final matchup with the Kings this season. With Dennis Schroder being a game-time scratch from the starting lineup the Hawks had to call upon Isaiah Taylor and Josh Magette to shoulder big minutes in the midst of a long Western Conference road trip.
The game had to be delayed from the original start time at 10:00 PM EST to 10:26 PM after protesters of police brutality surrounded every entrance to the Golden 1 Center. This comes after Sacramento police fired 20 shots at Stephon Clark in his backyard after mistaking his cell phone for a gun. Protesters caused the stadium to go on lockdown and fans to have their ticket purchases refunded instead of being admitted due to safety concerns.
The aforementioned injuries for the Hawks include a laundry list of players, starting with Kent Bazemore, who has now been ruled out for the remainder of the season. Also out for the Hawks was John Collins, who turned his left ankle in the Hawks last game against the Bucks while shooting a corner three. Antonius Cleveland, who recently inked a multi-season contract with Atlanta, also remains out rehabbing his ankle from surgery he had before the season. Malcolm Delaney and Jaylen Morris were also out with ankle sprains and the remainder of both guys seasons is in doubt. Schroder was scratched before tip off due to rest. Finally to top it all off, DeAndre’ Bembry continues to be out with an abdominal strain that has kept him out for a while now.
The action opened up with a still rowdy crowd of around 300-500 patrons who had already made it into the arena before the lockdown occurred. Justin Jackson broke the scoring seal with a three-pointer for the Kings and Taylor was quick to respond with a shot of his own from distance. Early on, Taylor was the motor for Atlanta’s offense, getting to the glass and being a pest to Sacramento with some nice passing. Three-point shooting was the story of the quarter for both teams as Taurean Prince, Tyler Dorsey and Magette all hit from range for Atlanta with Sacramento getting some huge shots from Buddy Hield and Frank Mason to keep them within three at the end of the first quarter, only down 28-to-25.
It seemed as though Atlanta and Sacramento just wanted to have a three-point contest as the ageless Vince Carter and two-way player Andrew White exchanged blows from beyond the arc. Then it was Mike Muscala and Skal Labissiere who added to the three-point barrage before the action all but shut down completely. Both teams hit a brick wall for most of the latter part of the second quarter as turnovers and missed shots ran amok. There was a strong finish to the quarter as Bruno Caboclo and Tyler Cavanaugh exchanged (you guessed it) shots from three in the final 7 seconds that had the Kings with a slight 49-44 advantage at the break.
The third quarter began with the Hawks showing some aggression on the offensive end as Damion Lee, Muscala and Taylor all made good efforts to get to the rim. Jackson wasn’t done having his way from three-point range as he knocked down back-to-back three-pointers to keep the Kings in the lead. As things slowed down again later in the quarter, the Kings turned to Kosta Koufos in the post where he delivered some nice hook shots to get a run started for Sacramento. Jackson and Mason were able to get to the basket for the Kings as Atlanta could not stop the transition game of Sacramento. The Kings finished with their foot on the gas to post an 80-71 lead going into the final quarter.
Dorsey knocked down the first bucket of the fourth in the form of a corner three-pointer and the teams were off from there. Hield continued to heat up with back-to-back-to-back jump shots to maintain the Kings 10 point lead. All of the Hawks offense was coming from second year point guard Isaiah Taylor and his ability to get to the rim at will with his great speed. Taylor even surpassed his career high midway through the fourth with 18 points but the play of Hield and Carter were able to keep the Hawks at bay. With the Hawks being heavily injured, the team just limped to the finish line as the Kings flexed their top young talent and took the win on a strange night in Sacramento.
The Hawks will have the Warriors in their next game on Friday in the second night of a back-to-back. Stay tuned.