After posting their first summer league victory on Tuesday night with a win over the Bulls, the Atlanta Hawks entered the tournament portion of summer league as the 18-seed and faced off versus the 15th-seeded Pacers. After trailing by 22 points at the half and by 27 points early in the third quarter, the Hawks found their rhythm on both ends of the floor and outscored the Pacers 67-34 over the final 18:50 to win 107-101 and advance to the next winner’s bracket round.
July 11, 2018 — Omari Spellman emphatically ties the game at 87-87 with this put back capping a 27-point come back which the Hawks would go on to win by six.
After Trae Young headed to the bench with 2:44 remaining in the third quarter, Tyler Dorsey and Jaylen Adams led the Hawks on a 28-9 run to pull the Hawks within two points at 89-87 with 5:16 remaining. Then, Young re-entered the game and took over as he scored or assisted on 16 of the Hawks’ final 20 points to finish off the Pacers.
In the fourth quarter, Indiana deployed a trapping scheme versus Young which did not end well for the Pacers. After hitting three free throws, Young assisted on five consecutive Hawks baskets threading the needle to find open players for easy scores. Young then sealed the game with two floaters, the second of which gave the Hawks a 105-101 lead with just eleven seconds to play.
July 11 2018 — Young works past multiple defenders off the pick and roll and finds Zach Smith for the easy basket to give the Hawks a six point lead with 1:23 to play.
July 11, 2018 — Young hits a floater with eleven seconds remaining to seal the summer league victory for the Hawks over the Pacers
After the game, Young referred to the Pacers late-game defensive approach, “They were playing very physical, doing a lot of trapping and hard hedging.”
When asked about the Hawks’ second half performance, he added, “It was definitely more fun, when you are knocking down shots and playing at a fast speed, a fast pace, it’s definitely a better time. And when you win, it’s great.”
Hawks’ summer league coach Chris Jent commented on Young’s late game success in distributing the basketball saying “he just constantly made the right decision” and adding “That’s the passing we’ve seen. His ability to find open players is uncanny and he was great.”
While the second half was a dominant Hawks performance, the first half was forgettable, even embarrassing at times. The Hawks managed just 15 field goals and eight assists while committing 15 turnovers leading to numerous uncontested baskets for the Pacers.
The first half play was so abysmal that Hawks’ head coach Lloyd Pierce addressed the team at half-time. Young described the visit from his head coach, “He just got on to the way we played, not the way we were supposed to play and it definitely gave us a boost into the second half, it definitely pushed us.”
Coach Jent noted his teams’ reaction, “They responded, obviously responded very well and showed a lot of heart, and it was great to see.”
After describing the first half as “embarrassing,” Dorsey explained that the Hawks “just picked it up. We never looked at the scoreboard, we just kept pushing and pushing.”
Though he scored 18 second half points, Dorsey explained that after the half “scoring was not even a mindset for me, to come back, that’s not the way you come back, its boxing out, doing the little things, the dirty work, getting to the glass.... then offensively we can run in transition and get easy [scores].”
The Final Tally
Dorsey led the Hawks with 24 points on a solid shooting performance (8/16 from the field and 6/10 from the three point line) while tallying eight rebounds and five assists. Young scored 23 points and added eight assists while fellow rookie Omari Spellman notched 13 points and nine rebounds.
The Pacers were lead by Alex Poythress who tallied 21 points and seven rebounds. Alize Johnson delivered a strong performance with 12 points and 14 rebounds while Aaron Holiday added 13 points and nine assists.
Trae Performing without the Trey
On a night when his jump shot was not falling, Young found another way to help his team win. In dishing out eight assists, most of them late in the fourth quarter, Young created high percentage scoring opportunities for his teammates.
July 11, 2018 — Young finds Antonius Cleveland for the easy score late int he game versus the Pacers.
July 11, 2018 — Young catches the Pacers’ defense napping and hits Smith for the dunk.
July 11, 2018 — Young breaks down the defense and finds Dorsey for the corner three.
Young also put points on the board scoring from inside the three point line (2/7 on threes, 5/7 on two pointers). Young has made a few floaters here and there in the summer league, but it was on full display versus the Pacers.
July 11, 2018 - Young makes a floater over a Poythress in the first half.
July 11, 2018 — He doesn’t get the foul call, but Young is still able to absorb the contact and score the basket early in the second half versus the Pacers.
Another Rookie Point Guard
While Young is naturally getting all of the attention, the Hawks have another rookie point guard on display in Adams. After a stellar collegiate career at St. Bonaventure, Adams signed a two-way contract with the Hawks this summer.
After struggling with consistency in Utah and in earlier play in Las Vegas, Adams is finding his stride. His stellar performance versus the Bulls on Tuesday (23 points, 5/7 on 3PA) was followed by a solid performance versus the Pacers. He was very efficient with eight points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals in 17 minutes and played a vital role in the third quarter comeback while Young was on the bench.
July 11, 2018 - Adams makes a baseline jumper versus the Pacers
July 11, 2018 — Adams finds Smith for the easy dunk, beautiful execution by the two rookies.
The Hawks may not be expecting immediate returns on their investment in Adams, but he is a legitimate lead guard with an elite shooting track record in college. He could pay dividends for the Hawks at some point in the not too distant future.
Doing the Dirty Work
Zach Smith has been nearly invisible in summer league play so far. After four years at Texas Tech, Smith was barley a blip on the NBA radar bought found an opportunity with the Hawks in summer league.
His playing time had been limited up until Wednesday night when Coach Jent made him part of the second half formula. In the game, Smith logged 21 minutes, scored seven points and collected six rebounds. He ended the game with a +27 in the box score, a number that is not coincidental with the Hawks’ 27-point comeback.
Smith is not likely carving out an NBA career for himself just yet. But, he did show on Wednesday night that executing the details of the game is vital, regardless of your profile or talent. Further, he showed that when one plays on the floor with Young, if you move without the ball, find open spots in the defense near the basket, Young will find you and reward you for your work.
Players who will be playing alongside Young in Atlanta during the regular season might want to take note of Smith’s performance versus the Pacers.
The Hawks will face the No. 2 seed Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night at 10:30 pm ET. Stay tuned.