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Hawks yield to Nets for third straight loss, 114-112

Not the prettiest game in the history of the NBA.

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Atlanta Hawks Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Following a two-day break, the Atlanta Hawks returned to action on Saturday evening with a home match-up against the Brooklyn Nets. In a game that became wildly competitive down the stretch, the Hawks fell short for a third consecutive loss by a final score of 114-112.

The evening began in positive fashion for the Hawks and it came in the form of three (yes, three) dunks before the Nets scratched on the scoreboard.

After that, though, there was very little to delight in during the first half... even if the combination of Trae Young and Vince Carter did deliver a fun highlight later in the first quarter.

Brooklyn struggled mightily with their shooting in the opening period, opening with a 1 of 10 stretch and finishing just 5 of 19 from beyond the arc over 12 minutes. Still, the Nets being able to attempt 19 threes in a quarter wasn’t a great sign for the Hawks on the defensive end, especially as Atlanta struggled offensively.

The Nets led for the majority of the first half (after closing the early gap with haste) but the home team did knot the proceedings at 41-41 on a three-pointer from Taurean Prince at the five-minute mark of the second quarter. From there, however, Brooklyn put together its best stretch of the evening with an 11-2 run and that helped to push the visitors into the halftime break with a nine-point edge.

John Collins was electric in the first half for Atlanta, scoring 16 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, but he was the lone bright spot in an otherwise unsightly effort. Both teams failed to crack 40 percent shooting and, in the first 24 minutes, the difference was Brooklyn connecting on more threes and creating extra possessions with offensive rebounding.

The third quarter was filled with runs by both sides, starting with a push from Atlanta to climb within a five-point margin. The Nets then rattled off an 8-2 spurt to take an 11-point lead and that prompted a timeout from Lloyd Pierce at the 8:13 mark.

Following that, the Hawks awakened, beginning with a 6-0 run that was kick-started by a broken play that became a three-point possession.

Atlanta eventually pushed their overall run to 10-0 to tie the game at 70-70 that included the maiden voyage from newly signed big man Tyler Zeller. The Nets didn’t score for more than three minutes and, later in the quarter, Jaylen Adams knocked down a three to briefly give the Hawks a one-point advantage.

Unfortunately for the home team, the Nets then seized control. Brooklyn closed the third quarter on a 9-2 run and that became a 12-2 spurt when Spencer Dinwiddie connected on a long-distance attempt to begin the fourth quarter.

Atlanta did bounce back to provide resistance, though, and it came with Collins at the head of the pack and Alex Len bringing support.

Atlanta scored six straight (with the help of Ed Davis, who gave the crowd free Chick-Fil-A with two missed free throws) and that brought the team to life. Later, the Hawks climbed within a two-point deficit at 94-92 with 6:54 to play and the game was (clearly) in the balance despite relatively poor play from the hosts.

Shortly after, Young connected on a three-pointer to tie the game and, with 5:11 to play, the rookie guard made two free throws to give Atlanta a 100-99 advantage. After a stop, Carter got into the act with a well-timed bucket at the rim and, in the blink of an eye, the Hawks held a three-point edge.

Seconds later, the Hawks took their largest lead in some time when Young dialed long distance.

The rookie guard scored 12 points in the first eight minutes of the fourth and Collins continued to be dominant around the rim. With that said, the Hawks were unable to generate stops and, when D’Angelo Russell buried a three-pointer with 1:40 to go, Atlanta found itself down by two points and with a timeout on the floor.

Following the stoppage, Kevin Huerter got to the rim but failed to finish and, after a foul, the Hawks trailed by four points with less than 90 seconds remaining. Still, Atlanta wasn’t done yet, with Young getting to the line (and making 1 of 2), followed by yet another bucket from Collins to slash the margin back to one with 1:03 on the clock.

The Hawks then caught a break when Russell missed a technical free throw to keep the score in place and, after a stop (and an official review), Atlanta had the ball with 44 seconds remaining in a one-possession game. Execution was an issue, though, as the Hawks came up empty and were forced to foul Joe Harris on the other end with 16.3 seconds remaining.

The sharp-shooter did provide hope when he missed one of two free throws but the Hawks still faced a two-point deficit on the game’s final possession. In the end, it was a long-range attempt by Carter that was the difference between victory and defeat, but the offering went begging and the Hawks fell by a two-point margin.

Collins led the way for the Hawks with an explosive performance, scoring 33 points (on 13 of 20 shooting) and grabbing 20 rebounds in only 30 minutes. He was flanked by Young, who produced the first triple-double by a rookie franchise history and finished with 23 points (on 4 of 14 shooting and 13 of 16 from the line), 10 rebounds and 11 assists.

The Hawks will face a quick turnaround, as the team returns to action on Sunday evening against the New Orleans Pelicans. Stay tuned.