For one night only, DIME senior writer (and Peachtree Hoops alum) Robby Kalland returns to his old home with insight from Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix.
The Atlanta Hawks and Phoenix Suns met in a battle of lottery teams and, while the general stakes weren’t high in Talking Stick Resort Arena on Saturday, the two teams put on quite the show for those in attendance.
The two teams traded the lead throughout the game, making former coach Larry Drew proud as it truly was a game of runs. John Collins and Devin Booker had dueling 30 point games, however, Booker was held scoreless for the first 11 minutes of the fourth quarter as Atlanta was, ultimately able to pull away late for a comfortable win.
The Hawks sophomore star put up 34 points and 16 rebounds in another monster performance. At times Collins was single-handedly keeping the Hawks within reach until Trae Young came alive late -- his 10 points in the third quarter were crucial in keeping Phoenix from opening up more than a two-point lead going to the fourth.
Collins was phenomenal, but he needed help late and got it from Young, who had 17 fourth quarter points after only three points in the second and third quarter combined. The rookie point guard finished the game with 27 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists, including a pair of deep threes down the stretch. The offense so clearly runs more efficiently with Young and Collins in the game together, as the Hawks consistently get much better looks than when one of the two is off the floor -- much less when both rest.
It wasn’t a pretty game from the Hawks by any stretch as they turned it over 25 times leading to 33 points for the Suns. The third quarter was, aside from Collins’ 10 points, an unmitigated disaster for much of the proceedings. Phoenix, as they are wont to do, looked great in transition and semi-transition, while often stalling out in the halfcourt.
Booker finished the game with 32 points, 10 assists, and eight rebounds, but was not heard from much down the stretch as he played 43 minutes and seemed to lose his legs a bit late. Josh Jackson had a monster 25-point performance on a rare efficient night hitting 10-of-15 shot attempts, while rookie Mikal Bridges poured in five threes on his way to 20 points.
However, aside from that trio, the Suns got very little from the rest of their squad. The Hawks defense wasn’t great on the perimeter, but they were able to contain Deandre Ayton inside and dominated the glass with 53 rebounds to just 37 from the Suns.
While the Suns are an admittedly terrible basketball team, Phoenix has been a house of horrors for the Hawks historically as Atlanta was 4-21 in their last 25 trips entering Saturday. In the latter stages of one of the longest West Coast road trips any team will face this season, getting a win against anyone is huge and once again it was the Hawks young stars that led the way.