The Atlanta Hawks put the final touches on their trip to Las Vegas late Friday night with a 97-81 victory against the Los Angeles Clippers. Atlanta threw out a skeleton crew, even reaching down the bench for Matt Hill to take over head coaching duties to give Chris Jent a break after a long two weeks of action in both Utah and Las Vegas. None of the Summer Hawks’ stars played against the Clippers, leaving just Jaylen Morris and Antonius Cleveland as the only NBA-level players with Trae Young, Omari Spellman, John Collins, and Tyler Dorsey sitting out the Friday festivities. As such, the Hawks were left with just eight players in the rotation.
Guard Robert Johnson stole the show in the first half with 12 points on 4-for-8 shooting in just 11 minutes, including a pair of three-pointers. Johnson was the main beneficiary of Young and Jaylen Adams being held out — he had only played 14 minutes per game across four games in Las Vegas before Friday’s finale but was able to show what he can do in 26 minutes against the Clippers. As much as he had the ball in his hands in the first half, Johnson didn’t tally an assist against two turnovers, but he was doing enough as a scorer that there was no reason for him to look to get his teammates involved.
Johnson picked up where he left off in the opening minutes of the second half, picking up an early bucket, though the turnover issues persisted with another pair in the first three minutes of the third quarter. Johnson would finish the game with 18 points as six of the eight Hawks scored in double digits in the contest.
Morris looked the part of the traditional point guard in the game, operating nicely in pick-and-roll to find his teammates for 4 assists in his 25 minutes. Mostly known for his defensive acumen at the NBA level, Morris has had a bit of a Taurean Prince-like transformation throughout Summer League — his defense hasn’t been quite up to par, but the offensive game has blossomed unexpectedly. Whether Morris ends up making the final roster come October remains to be seen, but he’ll likely have his chance to impress in training camp before general manager Travis Schlenk makes his final decision.
After a bit of a slow start, Cleveland got going in the scoring column, tallying ten points through three quarters as the Hawks took a two-point deficit into the final period, but it was 5’5 guard Junior Robinson who wowed the limited attendees left at Thomas and Mack late in Friday night’s game. His box score line almost underwhelms his impact on the game, as he finished with 20 points on 7-for-17 shooting but controlled the game in a way that can’t be felt in standard statistics. Robinson impressed with a few nice finishes and lobs at the rim for French big man Alpha Kaba.
Kaba had his struggles finishing some of those passes around the basket but dominated the offensive glass and the free throw line, as the Clippers’ big men had no answer for his size and physicality. Kaba posted a massive double-double, throwing up 14 points (on just nine shots) to go with 15 rebounds, 11 of them offensive.
12 points and 13 boards for the big fella! pic.twitter.com/xjhx4LNVkw— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) July 14, 2018
Atlanta will move on from Las Vegas into their summer vacations before reconvening in September for training camp ahead of the 2018-19 season. As the offseason continues to take shape for the Hawks, stay tuned to Peachtree Hoops for full coverage of everything related to the team.