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Trae Young shines, Hawks come up short in Indiana

Ninth consecutive loss keeps Hawks at bottom of the East

Atlanta Hawks v Indiana Pacers Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

Sometimes, the saying is figurative, but this time it is perhaps more literal than ever. Trae Young tried to single-handedly carry the Atlanta Hawks to a win on Friday evening. On a night when the Indiana Pacers seemed to be doing all they could to keep keep the Hawks level with them, Indiana prevailed with a 105-104 win in overtime.

Young matched a career high with 49 points. He shot 16 of 28 from the field and 8 of 15 from the three point line. In contrast, his teammates made 23 of 63 from the field and just 1 of 17 from behind the arc.

Despite matching a career high, Young would have traded the individual highlights for a win.

“I guess it was good individually, but people who know me know I don’t care at all,” Young said postgame, via Fox Sports Southeast. “if we don’t win, none of that matters... I didn’t do enough and that’s they way I look at it.”

References to holiday food hangovers and tryptophan are too easy to apply to the efforts from both teams in the game. Even Pacers’ coach Nate McMillan made the allusion to the holiday when discussing his team’s effort.

Aside from Young, the effort on both sides was marked by sloppy play and questionable shot selection. The two teams combined for 40 turnovers and, aside from Young, shot a collective 7/43 on three point attempts.

Early in the game, the teams traded baskets and mistakes. Young opened the game with a step-back three and Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon responded with a floater. After the opening scores, the Pacers looked to their advantage inside to build a first quarter lead. Five consecutive points from Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner gave the Pacers an early 7-5 lead and cast a shadowy forecast over what might become a long night for the Hawks. But in what became a key narrative for the game, Indiana quickly turned to an out of rhythm jump shooting team and let the Hawks hang around during the opening quarter.

Cam Reddish tied the game at nine with his euro-step drive to the basket but the Pacers eeked ahead with consecutive baskets by Brodgon. Later in the period, a Sabonis free throw pushed the lead back to five as the Pacers led 20-15. But as Indiana’s bench took the helm, the Hawks closed the period with an 8-2 run to lead 23-22 at the end of the opening quarter.

With Indiana’s bench still on the floor, the Hawks built on the strong finish to the first quarter by opening the second quarter with a 20-8 run. With Turner and Sabonis out of the game, Jabari Parker and Alex Len took advantage scoring the first six points of the period.

Seven consecutive points by Young increased the lead to 38-29. The 20-8 run was capped by a De’Andre Hunter three and a Damian Jones two forcing McMillan to call a timeout with his team trailing 43-30 mid-way through the period.

Indiana’s timeout had little immediate impact as the Hawks built their largest lead of the night when another three by Young put the Hawks up 50-32 with 4:10 to go before the half. Indiana got back on track by returning to their advantage inside and closing the gap to 54-43.

During an 11-4 run to close the half, Sabonis and Turner scored nine points, five of which came from the free throw line. During this stretch, Hawks’ big men started racking up fouls, an issue that would impact Atlanta as the game progressed after halftime.

The key narrative during the opening half was the Hawks’ edge when the Indiana bench was on the floor. The Hawks’ got 12 first half points from Len as the Hawk’s bench outscored Indiana’s reserves 20-7.

Though the Pacers finished the opening half with momentum, Atlanta’s 11-point halftime lead surely gave the Hawks an optimistic outlook as the second half began. However, the the third quarter was nothing short of a nightmare. Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce noticed the shift immediately. A quick 4-0 run from the Pacers prompted a quick timeout. Little changed as the Pacers proceeded to outscore the Hawks 29-11 in the period.

During the period, aside from five points and zero turnovers from Young, the remaining Hawks scored six points on 3/13 shooting while committing nine turnovers. The effort looked nothing like the team that built an 18-point lead in the first half.

On the other end of the ledger, the Pacers limited mistakes committing zero turnovers in the period while winning the battle on the boards and keeping the Hawks in foul trouble. Though the Pacers’ shooting didn’t get on track, they took 11 more field goals than the Hawks during the period and managed a 4-0 advantage in free throw attempts during the period as well.

In spite of the unraveling of the Hawks in the third quarter, Young refused to let his team roll over. With the star point guard back in the game, Atlanta used a 12-4 run, including eight points from Young, to regain the lead at 77-76 just minutes into the final period. The shift in momentum prompted a timeout from McMillan.

After the timeout, Doug McDermott made back-to-back threes followed by a two from Justin Holiday, just the bench contribution McMillan had been looking for all night. Lloyd Pierce responded with a timeout of his own with his team trailing 84-77.

After the timeout, Young took over. After a three point play from Bembry, Young scored 13 of the Hawks’ final 14 points in regulation. Trailing by two points with less than twenty second to go, Young beat Brogdon off the dribble and lifted a left-handed floater over Sabonis to send the game to overtime.

The overtime period opened with a five quick points from the Pacers. Atlanta responded with a three from Young and a two from Len to tie the game at 99-99. A corner three from T.J. Warren with 1:13 remaining broke the tie and cracked the door for the Pacers who then used defensive stops and free throws to ice the game. A last second three from Young closed the gap from four points to one as time expired.

In the overtime period, the Pacers double-teamed and trapped Young insisting that some other Hawk be forced to take shots. Ultimately, the second year point guard scored eight of the Hawks’ ten overtime points.

Despite respectable efforts from Len and Bembry, who each scored 15 points, the contributions from Young’s supporting cast was again not enough. During the absences of John Collins (suspension) and Kevin Huerter (injury), the Hawks have limited options. While Jabari Parker has been a solid sidekick, he was all but invisible in this game finishing with four points on 1/8 shooting.

The Pacers received balanced scoring from their starters. Lamb led the way with 20 but each Indiana starter scored at least 16. The Indiana bench was abysmal aside from the two quick threes from McDermott early in the fourth quarter.

A grueling week continues for the Hawks as they head to Houston for a Saturday night tilt with the Rockets. The match-up will be a very tough task with the Hawks coming off an overtime loss on the road while the Rockets have been at home all week and are coming off a win over Miami on Wednesday.

Young played an extended 42+ minutes versus the Pacers including playing the entirety of the second quarter. While he clearly didn’t hit a wall in Indiana, it will be interesting to see how much he has in the tank versus the Rockets. If his supporting cast can’t manage a better effort than they mustered in Indiana, Saturday night might be a long one for the Hawks.