Trae Young notched another double-double with 23 points and 11 assists while Dewayne Dedmon added 18 points and nine rebounds.
For the Jazz, Donovan Mitchell scored 34 points while Ricky Rubio added 17 points.
Deadly Dedmon down the stretch
After a first half that saw the Hawks lead by as many as 11 points, the Jazz responded in a big way to begin the third quarter, starting the half on a 28-8 run (before outscoring the Hawks 37-21 in the third quarter) that put them back in the lead. Once they took the lead, and with how things were going in the third quarter and the stark contrast between the two teams, you expected the Jazz to tuck this one away.
It was not to be on this Thursday night.
The Hawks managed to claw this one back and produce a victory, and the ball really got rolling at the end of the third quarter as Kent Bazemore hit two three-pointers to keep the Hawks just on periphery heading into the fourth quarter, one coming right at the end of the third quarter:
Despite going back down by eight points with just over five minutes remaining, the Hawks, again, battled back and took the lead once again with Trae Young with a probing layup and draws the foul on the made basket:
Rudy Gobert was in the vicinity to block this but his reluctance to leave John Collins alone near the rim — with Young’s ability to find others — and this allowed Young to hit this shot over Rubio.
Jae Crowder did not have a great shooting night (0-of-6 from the field, 0-of-5 from three) and was unable to give the Jazz the lead again with his three-point attempt in the corner, having to gather somewhat after the Mitchell pass wasn’t quite to his chest:
Next came what was arguably the most important play of the game. After Young’s three irons out, Gobert tips the rebound but only to the hands of Dedmon, who goes up with it for the shot, has it blocked by Gobert but is called for the goaltend:
This was a tough one for the Jazz, this was not an obvious goaltend in live action and even after review it was still debatable. What it did do, though, was put the Hawks up by four points with just over a minute to go, putting the Jazz under pressure to score as time grows sparse.
The Hawks would have another review go in their favor as Crowder is (rightly) deemed to have touched the ball last on the way out of bounds and the Hawks have the ball again, up four, with under a minute remaining. But not for long, as Collins picked up his sixth foul with his screen deemed to be illegal, giving the ball back to the Jazz.
The Jazz now need to score and they go to Mitchell to do just that. Mitchell drives inside and looks like he has the beating of the defense at the rim but Dedmon is there to block Mitchell and Gobert taps the rebound out of play. giving the ball back to the Hawks:
The ball returns to the Hawks, who need only drain some clock, but Young has it stolen, the Jazz break in transition with Joe Ingles, whose attempt at the rim is blocked by Dedmon but the balls lands with Royce O’Neale, who finds the streaking Gobert for the alley-oop to reduce the gap to two points:
The foul game started from there and after Dedmon hit two free throws to put the Hawks back up by four, Donovan Mitchell responds with a layup with nine seconds left. The Jazz foul Dedmon again but Dedmon splits the free throws to give the Jazz hope.
Kyle Korver draws a shooting foul just inside the arc and uncharacteristically misses the first free throw (he had already missed one earlier in the game) and missed the second one intentionally in the hopes the Jazz would gather the rebound. Korver’s high-arcing free throw miss is collected by Mitchell, who retreats to the corner, turns around and launches a tough three which hits the rim but fails to fall through the net, Hawks gather the rebound and that was all she wrote:
The Hawks, somehow (given the state of the third quarter and even being down by eight points in the fourth quarter) managed to pull this one out.
It’s a win that meant a lot to the Hawks for a number of different reasons.
“The way we responded was great,” said Trae Young postgame. “The way we finished out the game was great. A couple lapses and a couple mistakes on my part. It was a good game and a good learning lesson for us as well.”
“It was a great chance for our young guys to be out there,” said Kent Bazemore. “To get to see DeAndre’ get some reps in. They’re a good playoff team. Coach Snyder has them running some really complex sets, so it took a lot of discipline. Trae down the stretch … John fouled out unfortunately. Guys did a good job of battling back in that third quarter.”
Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce was proud of the way his side played, despite having nothing to play for at this time of year.
“I have no idea what happened on that last play but luckily Donovan Mitchell missed,” said Pierce in his opening statement. “I thought our guys played great. This is such a weird time of year when you have 10 games left. You’re out of the playoffs. You have a young team. Our guys showed tonight they still like competing and playing together.
“We have nothing but tough opponents that we’ll face the rest of the year. This is a big win for our guys in there because it’s a tough opponent and a tough game. To go up in the first half, to get down, to give up a 20-point swing…up 11 at halftime, come out 9-0 (Jazz) to start the third and then to battle our way back in. A lot of resiliency from our young guys.”
The Hawks have faced a lot of playoff teams lately and that’s going to continue across the Hawks’ final nine games (seven of them being against playoff teams) and Pierce is glad that the Hawks will have that challenge to close the season.
“I think, to me, the difference is it’s a lot easier to speak to our guys,” said Pierce when asked what he would say to his side when faced with a playoff team at this time of the year. “Philly coming in, knowing they’re trying to keep the 3-seed, knowing we beat them in Philadelphia last time we played, there’s not much I need to say to our guys other than ‘They’re not coming in here to rest guys’ and I think that’s important...
“...That’s why I enjoy having the schedule we have to finish the season because none of our guys want to get blown out, none of our guys want to come in and take days off and the teams that we’re playing aren’t doing the same thing. There’s some teams that we probably could be playing that are resting or not really interested in winning, but our guys are and the teams that we’re playing are so it’s easy to motivate and talk about who we’re playing.”
On the flip side, the Jazz entered this game as favorites, despite playing in New York the night before, and are engulfed in a fierce battle for playoff seeding in the Western Conference — this was a tough loss for them to take.
“They are a very good team,” said Utah point guard Ricky Rubio. “They are young, they have players who can really make shots, and they did that tonight. You can make a lot of excuses but it’s a loss, and it’s huge for us because we are chasing that homecourt advantage, which is super hard to get but we are going to keep playing our game.”
A good win for the Hawks but one that will make fans a little nervous, given the precarious situation involving themselves and the Dallas Mavericks but, as mentioned, the Hawks’ schedule to end the season is a tough one.
A big reason why the Hawks were able to establish the lead that they did in the first half was due to their three-point shooting — the Hawks shooting 12-of-21 from distance in the first half and 19-of-40 in total
A lot of Hawks got in on the action when it came to three-point shooting.
Taurean Prince was really the one to get the ball rolling, hitting three three-pointers in the first half, including this one in the corner as Prince fakes Ingles to free space:
Dewayne Dedmon obviously had his heroics late on but was dialed in from long-distance early on as he also hit three threes in this game, this one coming off of the Jazz’s defensive pressure on Young:
Even Justin Anderson got in on the action. In his five minutes of game-time, Anderson hit two three-pointers in a short period of time (which, apparently, wasn’t enough for him to earn any more minutes in this game after a spell in the first half):
The Hawks went cold in the third quarter from three and didn’t hit one until the final three minutes of the quarter, when it was Kent Bazemore who began to hit the threes the Hawks needed, hitting three three-pointers in the final three minutes, including this one in transition:
It was these types of threes that Jazz head coach Quin Snyder wasn’t happy about.
“They were 12-20 at one point in the first half, I believe…They are going to make some shots, they just have to be contested,” said Snyder of the Hawks’ shooting. “I’ll have to look at it but there is a good chance that we could have done a little more, but like I said, the ones that hurt us were not necessarily in the half court.”
There appeared to be an extra emphasis on the perimeter and, postgame, Pierce revealed that it was part of an effort to draw the shot-blocking Gobert out of the paint.
“We were trying to just get Rudy Gobert out of the paint,” said Pierce on the perimeter-orientated play. “John hits a big three as a result of that late in the game. But early in the game, it was tough to get him in the mix. The reason they put Gobert on him is because he’s effective in pick-and-rolls and effective at the rim defensively. We just wanted to space John and use Alex and Dewayne in the pick-and-rolls. It ended up being more of a perimeter game. But we’ll take our chances if Gobert is not in the paint, and I think that’s why we shot the three as well as we did. We were just moving guys around. John hit the biggest three of the night when Gobert was guarding him. We were able to throw back and get him a wide open shot.”
This was the three Pierce referred to. John Collins was stuck in foul trouble and didn’t have a great time of things last night — could never really get involved in this one — but did manage to hit that three-pointer in the fourth quarter from the corner:
Collins was limited in this game and with the way the minutes broke down and the Jazz’s rotation, the Hawks didn’t get a ton of opportunities to run the Young-Collins pick-and-roll with Gobert guarding nor an opportunity to stretch Gobert as much as maybe the Hawks would’ve liked, and their paint points were limited to 38 points and shot a well-below average figure of 42 percent at the rim in this game. If you look at the assists from Young last night, Gobert is barely involved in any of them as the pick-and-roll defender.
The Hawks shot the ball well from three but probably didn’t get to draw Gobert out as much as they would’ve wanted but that three-pointer from Collins in the fourth quarter was huge, as was the three-point shooting in general.
The Hawks received a nice boost from their bench last night, outscoring Utah’s bench 40-23.
Three players scored in double digits for the Hawks’ bench — Vince Carter came in and hit some threes (and had a good contest on Mitchell for that last shot in the corner) scoring 10 points, Alex Len provided a nice spark when Collins had to leave with foul trouble and added 12 points and Kent Bazemore, whose impact we’ve already covered, hit four three-pointers for 12 points.
Justin Anderson came in and hit some threes, as we mentioned already, but that was all for his involvement in five minutes, while Jaylen Adams only saw nine minutes of action as he was scoreless and committed three turnovers.
Instead, we got to see Kevin Huerter at point guard in the second half, which was certainly interesting.
Not a ton else to say in this spot — the Hawks’ bench was important, giving the starters a nice boost, something the Jazz didn’t really have.
Eclipsing last year’s win total
This victory marked the Hawks’ 25th of the season, which overtakes last year’s season total with nine games to go.
When told/asked about it postgame, Pierce didn’t seem to be massively into it, saying that last year’s group was very different to the one this year, and you got the feeling it was like comparing apples to oranges — just not the same.
“It’s a different team. Different situation,” said Pierce. “For us, it’s still about us. And the last 10 games will be about us. It’s still about our growth and our development, and what we can accomplish as a unit. Different schemes, different plays, different players. This is always and will be about us. I’m just proud anytime we find a way to win because we’re growing and learning.”
I think this will mean more next season when Pierce has another year under his belt but it wasn’t his group last year — firstly, Pierce wasn’t there last year, his staff wasn’t there, his rookies Young, Huerter and Omari Spellman weren’t there (among others)...the two years aren’t really comparable and certainly can’t be used to really measure success this season.
Maybe next year...
The Hawks (25-48) are back in action on Saturday when they take on the Philadelphia 76ers at State Farm Arena.
Will Joel Embiid finally play in Atlanta?
Should be fun.
Until next time...