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Hawks handle Bulls 124-104 in season opener


NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Chicago Bulls Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

At long last, the Atlanta Hawks opened the 2020-21 NBA season Wednesday night in Chicago for a matchup vs. the Bulls. This was the first regular season game that the Hawks have played since Mar. 11, which was also the last day of NBA basketball before the Orlando bubble.

The Hawks cruised to a 124-104 victory over the Bulls to kickoff their season.

While plenty of excitement surrounded the opener, the Hawks were without some of the new additions. Clint Capela (left achilles soreness), Rajon Rondo (health and safety protocol), Kris Dunn, Tony Snell and Onyeka Okongwu were unavailable for head coach Lloyd Pierce.

Regardless of missing players, the Hawks got off to a hot start, immediately displaying how lethal they can be on offense. Trae Young, in particular, picked up right where he left off last season.

Young scored nine points in the first few minutes of the game and went on to total 12 points in the opening period. Young has seemingly not missed a beat and showed everyone early why he was top-four in assists and points last season.

Atlanta used a 9-2 run to jump out to an early 21-9 lead over the Bulls, and they opened up the game shooting 9-of-11 from the field. The Hawks kept their foot on the gas, rounding out the first quarter with 42 points.

Bogdan Bogdanovic was one of the first players off the bench for Atlanta. He scored eight points in a hurry midway through the second quarter.

The Hawks rode a steady offensive performance to finish the first half with an 83-59 lead over the Bulls. Young capped off the half with 27 points and five assists. He was impressively able to drain five 3-pointers on six attempts in the half as well.

Danilo Gallinari, John Collins and Cam Reddish each scored in double figures alongside Young. Young and Gallinari combined to score the Hawks’ last 15 points of the second quarter. That scoring spree from the two of them spanned four minutes.

Head coach Lloyd Pierce went 10-deep in the first half. The only players who did not see the court in the opening half were the two-way guys, Skylar Mays and Nathan Knight.

Atlanta did not come out of the break with quite the same explosion that they had in the first half, but their first half efforts helped them notch 100 points with 5:58 left in the third. The Hawks had seven players in double-figures with just 4:47 in the same period. This is the type of offensive performance that was in Travis Schlenk’s mind when making the offseason moves he did.

The Hawks were particularly impressive in transition. Several players were able to showcase flashy finishes on the break.

The offense was even slower in the fourth quarter, though the game was seemingly in hand. The Hawks did not reach double-digits in the quarter until there was 5:30 left to play.

Knight and Mays did eventually check into the game with 5:04 left on the clock. This means that all 12 of the available players for the Hawks saw the floor on Wednesday night.

This was a very promising beginning for the Atlanta Hawks 2020-21 season, especially offensively.

Young led the way for Atlanta with 37 points, seven assists and six rebounds in just 26 minutes of action. Surprisingly, Bruno Fernando led Atlanta with seven rebounds off the bench, as he was the only true center available for the Hawks in this game. Atlanta hopes that Capela can get back into the lineup as soon as possible, but tonight, the Hawks played a solid game without him.

Atlanta will have a two-day break before traveling to Memphis on Dec. 26 to take on the Grizzles. The Hawks split games with the Grizzles in the preseason and will look to build off of an impressive opening night victory.