The Atlanta Hawks were back in action on Sunday night in Brooklyn to face Kyrie Irving and the Nets. The game marked the return of Irving from a 26-game absence due to injury but, on the Hawks side, star point guard Trae Young missed the contest with a hamstring injury, with Brandon Goodwin getting the start in his place.
Early on, it was apparent that the absence of Young would be detrimental to Atlanta’s offensive output, which was non-existent in the first quarter.
The Hawks managed to scrape together just 16 points in the opening minutes with the majority of those points being scored by Goodwin.
On the other end of the floor, the Hawks were equally as bad, allowing Brooklyn to score 37 of their own to put themselves in a (very) deep hole early.
Things picked up though in the second quarter thanks to some momentum from Kevin Huerter.
Huerter got a few minutes running the offense and was able to get Cam Reddish involved. Between Huerter and Reddish the Hawks were able to claw their way back to an 18-point deficit at one point.
Unfortunately that did not last long as the Hawks defense continued to leak oil, with Brooklyn up by 24 points at the break. The Nets scored 70 points in the first half thanks in large part to Irving who was fantastic tonight in his return.
The only real positive for the Hawks in the first half was Cam Reddish’s play as he amassed 16 points.
Just like the first quarter, Atlanta struggled to generate offense out of the locker room. After two Reddish free throws to open the third, Brooklyn went on a 15-0 run before the Hawks were able to scratch again.
Mercifully, the Nets took Irving out of the game about midway through the third and Atlanta turned to a lineup of DeAndre’ Bembry, Charlie Brown, Reddish, Paul Watson and Damian Jones. Strangely enough, that lineup proved to be Atlanta’s best of the night as they finished the quarter on a 16-3 run to make things at least somewhat respectable.
However, the game was not in doubt by the start of the fourth quarter as the Nets found themselves up 92-66.
There was not much good basketball played in the final quarter.
The Hawks inserted Vince Carter into the game once again after a stint in the first half and he was able to knock down a couple of threes to the crowds delight. Carter is still beloved by Nets fans after his stint with the New Jersey Nets from 2004-2009.
The Hawks limped their way to the finish with Collins, Hunter, Huerter and Reddish seated firmly on the bench. Hunter and Collins really had disappointing nights as each looked totally out of sync.
For what it’s worth, the Hawks actually did outscore the Nets in the final period to make things look a little better than they actually were. In all seriousness, though, Atlanta was absolutely dreadful all night long on offense and did really well to not lose by 50.
Reddish led the Hawks with 20 points and added a career-high five steals. Bembry posted 12 of his own and Alex Len quietly added 10 points and four rebounds.
The Hawks will be back at it on Tuesday in State Farm Arena to face the Phoenix Suns.