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Hawks take down Pistons 117-100 behind Trae Young’s explosive first half

Young picked up where he left off at the end of last season.

Atlanta Hawks v Detroit Pistons Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks made their way tonight to Detroit, Michigan to open the regular season against the Pistons. On the injury report for Atlanta was Kevin Huerter, who was listed as active after missing the entire preseason, along with Chandler Parsons, Allen Crabbe and the newly acquired Tyrone Wallace, who were all listed as out.

The first quarter opened with a flurry from the Hawks as De’Andre Hunter tried to assert himself with some drives towards the rim. It did not take Hunter long to scratch in his NBA career with a nice layup through contact.

Shortly after that the Trae Young onslaught began as he linked up with his partner in crime, John Collins to stretch the Hawks lead to five early on.

Later on in the quarter Young scored 11 points on five possessions including this ludicrous three pointer from the Piston’s half court logo.

The Hawks would’ve had a bigger lead after one had Derrick Rose not decided to have himself a night as he rattled off seven points in the final 3:22. There were also some interesting rotational moves as Young played the entire opening frame and the Hawks went 10 deep on the floor. Kevin Huerter did not scratch in the first quarter, but coach Pierce noted before the game that Huerter would only have about 15 minutes tonight.

Atlanta finished the first quarter with a 153.7 offensive rating to go along with a 72% true shooting percentage. Both of those numbers were insane, but alas the Hawks only found themselves up 38-32 after the aforementioned Rose outburst.

Also of note in the first quarter was Vince Carter making an appearance in his NBA record 22nd season. Carter did not scratch the stat sheet, but did play for a four minute stretch.

Hawks fans had to be pleased at the opening of the second quarter as Huerter found his way onto the floor as Atlanta’s 11th player used. Huerter did not look particularly good as he showed quite a bit of rust, but just getting him back on the floor was huge.

Collins got things rolling in the second with a beautiful step back jumper which excited Travis Schlenk, who was in the booth doing an interview at the time, enough to give a Dominique Wilkins comp to which the Hall of Famer chuckled.

The Hawks were a cumulative -3 without Trae during his second quarter rest as Evan Turner got his first minutes as Atlanta’s de-facto back up point guard to open. Young re-entered and immediately got rolling again.

Young ended up totaling 26 points in his first 16 minutes against a pretty solid defender in Bruce Brown capped off with this ridiculous shot:

Unfortunately the Pistons just started hitting every shot even with the Hawks draped all over them. Atlanta finished the half with a 130.3 defensive rating with Rose being a huge problem.

The Hawks did have a 124 offensive rating thanks to Young’s heroics, but found themselves down 63-60 at halftime.

Lloyd Pierce must have had a stirring message at halftime because the Hawks came out defending like their hair was on fire. After allowing consecutive 30-point quarters to start, the Hawks allowed just 10 points in the first eight minutes of the third period and a total of 37 in the second half.

On the offensive end Atlanta put the ball back into their young (no pun intended) star’s hands as Young began to get his teammates involved.

Jabari Parker was the big story of the third quarter though as he scored nine big points in the latter half of the period against the lackluster defense of Thon Maker. Thanks to Parker’s hard work in the post, Atlanta found themselves leading by 10 at the end of the third.

Atlanta held Detroit to just 18 points in the third and the Hawks found themselves entering the fourth quarter with a solid chance to win up 91-81.

The Hawks’ defensive energy continued over into the fourth quarter as Evan Turner remained on the floor. Young returned but Detroit changed their gameplan to contain him and it worked pretty well as Trae had absolutely 0 room to operate.

The stabilizer for Atlanta in this game was actually Hunter who entered the game and immediately settled the waters with a three off a beautiful find by Carter.

Just when the Hawks started to pull away, some clock shenanigans started in Detroit and time had to be taken the old fashioned way from the 7:56 mark of the fourth to the 6:09 mark. During that time, the Pistons mounted a 9-1 run to get things back into single digits, but when the clocks came back on, the Hawks did as well.

Atlanta threw back a quick 7-0 run to get the lead back over double digits thanks to an outburst from John Collins, who got things done on both ends with a steal and score to swing the momentum back.

The Hawks turned to Young for closing duties and Trae obliged by finding Bembry in the lane with just over 2:30 remaining in the game for an easy lay in that put Atlanta up nine. Young then iced the game with a drive and scoop finish under the rim for an and-one opportunity to put the Hawks up 12.

Atlanta was led by Young’s 38 points and 9 assists. John Collins put up a double-double with 20 points and 10 boards. Jabari Parker contributed 18 points followed by De’Andre Hunter with 14 big ones in his NBA debut.

The Hawks took their opener by a final score of 117-100 after turning up their defense big time in the second half. Atlanta will be back at it Saturday evening in Atlanta for their home opener against Orlando.

Stay tuned.