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Hawks fall to Jazz, finish 0-3 in Utah Summer League

We can now look ahead to a fresh start in Las Vegas Summer League.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Pittsburgh Practice Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

After dropping their first two games in the Utah Summer League by a combined 37 points, the Atlanta Hawks fought hard but came up short, losing 92-87 to the Utah Jazz to finish their week in Salt Lake City at 0-3. Playing without John Collins, the Hawks again struggled to make shots. Trae Young’s individual shooting woes continued as well as he made just three of 16 shots from the field including one of eight from the three point line.

In a physical, contentious and, at times chippy, game, the Hawks refused to back down from the host team. The game featured a bit of an altercation between rookie point guards when Young and Grayson Allen got tangled up early in the third quarter resulting in a technical foul on each player. Omari Spellman and Georges Niang also received double technicals in the second quarter.

Things getting testy between Trae Young and Grayson Allen.

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July 5, 2018 — Trae Young and Grayson Allen get tangled up early in the third quarter resulting in double technicals.

In the first quarter, the Hawks gave a glimpse of the style of play Coach Lloyd Pierce expects from his team. After struggling defensively in their first two games in Utah, the Hawks opened the game with physical defensive play aggressively attacking the passing lanes. They used five steals to force six Utah turnovers and hold the Jazz to 17 points in the quarter. Thanks to 6 of 24 first quarter shooting, the Hawks trailed 17-16 after the opening period.

In the second period, the Jazz found their offensive rhythm and used a 7-0 run late in the quarter to open a 36-25 lead before finishing the half with a 42-32 lead. In the second quarter, the Hawks’ struggled to take care of the basketball and finished the quarter with just one assist on five made field goals with seven turnovers, including two each from Young and Tyler Dorsey.

The Hawks played their best basketball in the third quarter when they outscored to Jazz 27-22 to pull within five at the end of three periods. They were led by Jaylen Morris with nine points and Jock Landale with seven points in the period.

In the fourth quarter, the Hawks and Jazz traded baskets as the Hawks were never able to pull closer than the five point lead eventually losing by the same interval, 92-87. The quarter did feature five straight scores by Antonius Cleveland. Cleveland found a nice rhythm working with Trae Young who assisted on the final two of Cleveland’s five field goals in the period.

July 5, 2018 — Trae Young and Antonius Cleveland hook up on a beautiful alley oop.

The Hawks were led in scoring by Tyler Dorsey with 17 followed by 14 points each from Morris and Cleveland. The Jazz got 15 points each from Tony Bradley, Stanton Kidd and Geores Niang.

Young’s struggles

Undoubtedly, the talk of the Hawks’ performance this week in Salt Lake City is Young’s shooting. However, if there is one single aspect of the action to discount in summer league, especially in games played at altitude, it is shooting. Young was not the only rookie to struggle shooting the ball this week. Fellow rookies, Allen (6 of 29) and Lonnie Walker IV (8 of 28) struggled to shoot the ball as well, though each of them sat in his team’s second game to return with fresher legs in the finale.

Young averaged 29 minutes in his three games this week, finishing second unofficially in minutes played to San Antonio’s Derrick White. Young received three doses of bigger, older, more physical defenders this week. He was primarily matched up against Memphis’ Javon Carter (22, 6’2, 200 pounds), San Antonio’s White (24, 6’5, 190 pounds ) and Utah’s Allen (22, 6’4, 198 pounds). In contrast, Young is 19 and is 6’2 and 178 pounds.

Expecting Young to immediately thrive against defenders of that size and experience isn’t reasonable. Thursday night’s game was no different than his first two games when Young struggled at times with the physicality of the game. Still, Young looked more comfortable versus the Jazz. Though he finished with six turnovers, he played more under control, displayed much better shot selection and finished with seven assists compared to the three assists he dished out in each of his games earlier in the week.

His team was markedly better when he was on the floor as he, and the starting unit, in general outscored the Jazz starting lineup. Young finished the game with a +12 in the box score as each starter finished with a positive +/- while each bench player finished in the negative.

Tyler Dorsey

Teams always hope to see that second year players returning to summer league action look like a man among boys in summer league. Collins did just that earlier this week as did White playing in all three games with the Spurs this week.

Versus the Jazz, Dorsey filled the stat sheet including a game high 17 points. But his play on both ends of the floor was not fluid. He struggled at times with ball handling and defensive assignments as he did earlier in the week. The Hawks clearly tried to use him as a lead guard when Young was not on the floor and the results were mixed at best.

The summer league environment is not an automatic fit for every returning player. Some players struggled to adapt to the summer league caliber of play after spending one season in the NBA. Taurean Prince showed the same types of struggles in summer league last season. Still, surely the Hawks will be looking for better performances from Dorsey in Las Vegas.

Other Notables

Omari Spellman was active at times in this game finishing with nine points and a team high ten rebounds. As we saw in the first two games, Spellman looked comfortable in two circumstances — first, when he was involved in the offensive action and second, when he was in position to block a shot.

Defensively, his timing was a help defender was inconsistent and he looked okay at best as an on the ball defender. Offensively, he struggled with his shooting like the rest of the team, though he did make two of four attempts from three point line versus the Jazz. Off the ball, Spellman was able to have success on the offensive boards but didn’t have much much success scoring around the basket.

During his fourth quarter scoring burst, Cleveland showed that he can be an explosive scorer in spurts. Young struggled to have rhythm with any of his teammates this week until he and Cleveland connected on back-to-back scores in the fourth quarter versus the Jazz.

After being mostly invisible in the first two games this week, Morris got the start and had an efficient game finishing with 14 points on 5/8 shooting including 3/3 from the three point line. It was a nice showing for Morris who needs to shine more in Las Vegas if he hopes to make a serious impact during summer league.

Looking Ahead

The Hawks now move on to Las Vegas, likely happy to have a change of scenery. They will face the Knicks on Saturday at 5:30 pm ET. Young is likely to be again matched up versus another big, physical guard in Frank Ntilikina. They will then face the Trailblazers on Sunday and the Bulls on Tuesday.