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Road-weary Hawks run out of gas in 116-100 loss to Nets

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It was going well for a while. Then, it wasn’t.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

On the heels of a close-fought defeat in Toronto, there was no rest for the Atlanta Hawks, as the team faced off with the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday evening. Though the game started with a bang for the visitors, things settled from there and, eventually, the well-rested Nets prevailed by a final score of 116-100.

The evening opened in electric fashion for the Hawks, who seemed energized from the opening tip. Trae Young and John Collins set the tone with efficient and effective offense, combining for the team’s first 13 points on the way to an early 13-4 advantage.

Atlanta scored 10 points on the first five possessions to prompt a timeout from Brooklyn and, coming out of the stoppage, Collins connected on a three-point play to strengthen the team’s position.

From there, the Nets stabilized for a few moments but, in time, the Hawks would use a 8-0 run to take a 17-point advantage that was both startling and impressive. Brooklyn opened the night by missing 13 of their first 17 shots and Atlanta’s defense held them without a field goal for more than five minutes.

In addition to the positivity associated with a 15-point lead after 12 minutes of play, the Hawks were also greeted in warm fashion by the home crowd, at least in the form of Vince Carter. The future Hall of Famer encountered a tribute video and a standing ovation focusing on his time with the organization.

The Hawks didn’t immediately rest on their laurels from the first quarter, building a 19-point lead in the opening minutes of the second quarter. At that point, Dewayne Dedmon was flying around defensively to the tune of four blocked shots and it was clear that Atlanta in full control.

In less than surprising fashion, however, Brooklyn (finally) responded in putting together an 11-0 run. Granted, the spurt took a long time to materialize but the Nets were back in the game and Atlanta’s offense sputtered in considerable fashion.

In fact, the Hawks shot just 4 of 17 from the floor (and 0 of 8 from three) in the final nine minutes of the first half, and that ugly shooting was accompanied by seven turnovers. That inefficiency allowed Brooklyn to climb within a 57-51 margin by halftime, even as Collins excelled with 18 points and eight rebounds.

Unfortunately for the Hawks, the suboptimal close to the first half carried into the second, and it happened immediately. Young turned the ball over on the opening possession, leading to an easy bucket for Brooklyn, and Pierce called an immediate timeout just 18 seconds into the third quarter.

From there, the Nets put their foot to the floor, using a 17-6 run to take a five-point lead. That spurt included a trio of threes from Joe Harris (as Atlanta lost him defensively) and, while the Hawks did stop the bleeding eventually, Brooklyn felt like the aggressor. The Nets then finished the quarter on a 9-0 run to take a six-point lead into the fourth quarter and the home team didn’t stop there.

Brooklyn then separated from Atlanta with a 14-1 run (and a 23-3 overall stretch) early in the fourth quarter and, seemingly in the blink of an eye, the Hawks were trailing by 17 points and completely on the ropes. It was clear that the Hawks essentially ran out of gas on the second night of a back-to-back and, in the end, the result was a 16-point defeat.

The work of Collins was the positive headliner for the Hawks, as the second-year big man scored 30 points (tying for his career high) and grabbed 14 rebounds, including nine on the offensive glass. Still, Atlanta’s overall offense left a lot to be desired in a big-picture sense and the numbers were jarringly poor after the inspiring start.

Following a grueling back-to-back, the Hawks will enjoy an off day on Thursday but the team must travel to Philadelphia for a Friday night tilt with the Sixers. Stay tuned.