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Hawks hold on behind high-powered offense, top Pelicans for third straight win

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Scoring came easy in The Big Easy.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks notched their third straight victory as they topped the the New Orleans Pelicans 130-120 on Tuesday night at the Smoothie King Center.

Trae Young produced his fourth straight double-double with 33 points and 12 assists while DeAndre’ Bembry and Dewayne Dedmon added 18 points.

For the Pelicans — without Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday — they were led by Julius Randle’s 24 points while Frank Jackson scored 20 points prior to suffering a concussion.

Hawks score enough to hold on

From the jump, scoring looked like it was going to come easy from both sides, and it was the Pelicans who looked comfortable early on as they scored 20 points within the opening six minutes.

The Hawks, in contrast, scored just 12 points in the opening six minutes and it looked like a case of ‘rust versus rest’ early on (this being the Hawks’ first game since Saturday) — they missed some good opportunities and, defensively, their rotations were not sharp to begin this game. But they were getting solid looks and that always bodes well when you can continue to set up good opportunities even though shots are missed — can’t miss forever.

And that tuned out to be the case as the Hawks’ offense took off after that point.

Trailing 20-12 with 6:09 left on the clock in the first, the Hawks ignited from behind the arc as they would make five threes in a row after missing their first six attempts from three — marking the beginning of the scoring outburst that would come.

Young got the Hawks going from behind the arc, stepping into a three-pointer after a screen from Alex Len opens the space Young needs to pull the trigger:

Len was the next to get going as he is found by Taurean Prince in the corner for a corner three-pointer:

Young and Len link up again as the Hawks run one of their double-drag screen actions as Deyonta Davis dives to the rim while Len fades to the three-point line, Young finding Len for three:

The Hawks would go on to take the lead with their next three, attacking in transition after a block from Dewayne Dedmon, Bemrby leads the charge and finds Young for the transition three:

The Hawks would complete their 15-5 run with great ball movement as Prince makes the extra pass to Len in the corner, who hits his third three of the quarter off the bench:

Len had checked in for John Collins after picking up two fouls in the first quarter and made his impact be known immediately. This was a big run for the Hawks in this game and it marked a turning point in this game.

After blitzing their way out of their early issues offensively, the Hawks would continue to score at will after this run, eventually running up 42 points in the first quarter.

Leading by eight points to begin the second quarter, both teams would struggle to follow their offensive showing from the first quarter — it got ugly.

The key separation eventually came however, and the Hawks tore away from the Pelicans with a 19-3 run to take a 19 point lead with two minutes remaining in the quarter, a lot of these points coming either at the rim or behind the arc — just what Lloyd Pierce would love (‘Like the three, love the rim’).

From alley-oops:

(Whoo-boy)

To well worked three-point opportunities:

The Hawks were rolling in the second quarter, the only disappointment was that the Hawks lost six of their 19 point lead in the final two minutes, giving the Pelicans some hint of life trailing by only 13 points heading into the second half.

The third quarter didn’t move the needle a ton as the lead never found itself in single digits and not even as low as 12 points as the Hawks eventually took a 21 point lead. Again, the disappointment came in that the Hawks couldn’t sustain it heading into the fourth quarter, the Pelicans cutting the lead to 15 by the end of the third.

The Pelicans did eventually show life, despite losing their leading scorer at the time Frank Jackson to a concussion and two things helped the Pelicans out early on. John Collins picked up his sixth foul within a few seconds of the fourth quarter beginning (Pierce elected to let Collins play though his foul trouble) and the Hawks found themselves in the penalty very early on in the fourth quarter, shooting 13 free throws in the final period.

For the first time since the first half, the Pelicans were within single digits but for everything the Pelicans threw at the Hawks in the final period, the Hawks had an answer. The Pelicans couldn’t find anyway to stop the Hawks on the offensive end and the Hawks had done enough through three quarters to leave themselves with a safe margin to hold on and secure their third straight victory.

The Hawks registered 30 assists on the game and Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce credited Prince with setting the tone when it came to the Hawks’ ball movement — tallying as many assists as he did shot attempts with five.

“I want to give credit to Taurean tonight,” said Pierce postgame via Fox Sports Southeast. “I thought he had a very unselfish start in the first half of just moving the basketball. He really set a precedent for our guys and just make the extra pass, and we did. The ball movement was contagious tonight but I thought he (Prince) went out of his way (to set guys up)...”

Pierce wasn’t alone in crediting Prince as the catalyst.

“Taurean started it off (the ball movement) with hitting A(lex) Len for a corner three and after that, everyone started passing it to each other,” said DeAndre’ Bembry via Fox Sports Southeast. “Every one can shoot. It was a team effort offensively and defensively.”

We’ve looked at multiple assists so far where Prince could’ve easily jacked a shot up and last night, to his credit, he passed up those opportunities to find his teammates. The assist to Alex Len in particular illustrates that, and it seemed to really get the ball rolling for the Hawks.

The mood in the locker-room seemed to quite spirited postgame and you can tell that this group just seems happy with how things are going even at this stage of the season when there’s nothing to play for other than pride. While the Pelicans aren’t a playoff-bound team, the Hawks have won a few games against such opponents recently and know they can mix it up with any team on their given night.

“We’re so talented on both ends,” said Bembry. “If we play unselfish, we can play with anyone and that’s what happened this year — we played good (against) some of the great teams this year ... we’re still trying to get better but this is a good game for us.”

Trae Young also made some history last night as he became the first rookie in NBA history to register four games of at least 30 points, 10 assists and at least five threes in a game:

Added to that...

Haven’t talked about Young a ton, despite a 33-12 performance, but it obviously goes without saying that Young was great. What was most impressive about his performance, though? Young committed just one turnover to go with those 12 assists. You love to see that.

The Hawks should enjoy this win — a win they deserved — because the schedule is about get tougher as they face-off against multiple playoff teams including two matchups against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Jack ‘em up

The Hawks, as everyone knows by now, love to shoot threes and they’ve been shooting a ton since the All-Star Break.

Since the break, only the Houston Rockets have averaged more three-point attempts than the Hawks, Atlanta is jacking up 41 threes a game. It’s one thing to launch them and another to make them, and the Hawks are making them — they rank fourth in three-point percentage since the break, shooting over 37% on their threes.

Last night, both of those trends continued as the Hawks attempted 51 three-pointers in last night’s contest — the most they’ve attempted in a regulation game this season (they attempted 60 threes in that 4OT game against the Bulls) — making 19 of them for 37% on the night.

Trae Young hit five threes, Vince Carter hit four threes off of the bench and after that it was a balanced effort — Alen Len obviously hit those three threes in the first quarter, Kevin Huerter and Dewayne Dedmon hit two apiece...you get the idea.

Not a lot else to say in this spot, the Hawks’ three-point shooting was key last night, especially in the first quarter when the Hawks were down early. They took the lead with a flurry of threes and never looked back.

Pelicans beat the Hawks at their own game

The Hawks jack up a lot of threes, this we know. The other thing everyone knows them for? Turnovers.

The Hawks have turned the ball over at will this season (leading the league in that department by far) but last night it was the Pelicans who channeled their inner-Hawks as they were the ones who committed the turnovers — 24 of them leading to 26 points.

It’s not too often you see the Hawks on the other side of this stat but when you play as the Pelicans did last night — they were just careless with the ball but did help themselves somewhat in that they committed a decent number of dead-ball turnovers, limiting the Hawks’ ability to get out in transition.

The Hawks themselves committed 16 turnovers on the game — not amazing but a decent night for the Hawks’ standards, highlighted by Young’s single turnover.

Rotation tid-bits

A few interesting things to note with the Hawks’ rotation last night to close off here...

John Collins obviously had his foul trouble (ans was limited to less than 20 minutes) and picked up two fouls in the first quarter and it was Deyonta Davis who Lloyd Pierce turned to in the first quarter. Davis played six minutes in total and scored two points from the free throw line.

Davis’ 10-day contract is set to expire before the Hawks’ next game on Friday and I’d be surprised if he was offered a second one, even with the news of Miles Plumlee’s season-ending injury (and I only say that because Plumlee was set to return from injury in the very near future before suffering a setback in his rehab).

The Hawks initially ran with a Kevin Huerter at point guard lineup but Pierce did eventually call upon Jaylen Adams to run thing as backup point guard.

Justin Anderson also saw time, eight minutes of it, and hit a three-pointer in that time (before getting served a large helping of ice postgame as Bembry revealed in his post-game interview).

Kent Bazemore’s struggles continued as he scored two points on 0-of-6 shooting from the field in just 11 minutes of play.

Bazemore’s minutes since the All-Star Break are down (not massively but down nevertheless, averaging 25 minutes prior to the break, 23 after the break) but in the last five games this has dipped significantly as Bazemore is averaging less than 17 minutes per game.


The Hawks (27-48) are back in action on Friday at the safe confines of State Farm Arena where they take on a reeling Portland Trail Blazer team, not reeling in terms of losses but from the loss of Jusuf Nurkic to a horrific leg injury.

Can they make it four in a row? We shall see...

Until next time...