Coming off of a successful five game home-stand — having lost six in a row previously — the Atlanta Hawks returned to the road where they won their third straight game in San Antonio triumphing over the Spurs 124-106 on Wednesday night, running their winning streak to six games.
Trae Young led the way with 31 points and 11 assists while Bogdan Bogdanovic added 18 points as eight Hawks scored in double-digits. For the Spurs, Bryn Forbes scored 23 points off the bench, Dejounte Murray scored 22 points.
Towards the beginning of the game, the Hawks did well to weather the San Antonio storm particularly from behind the arc.
Heading into last night’s game, the Spurs rank 29th in three-point attempts with 28.8 attempts per game and 30th in makes with 9.8 threes per game. In the first half of this game, the Spurs made eight three-pointers, three of them coming by way of Murray.
The Hawks ended the second quarter on a positive note with Young at the heart of it — as if often the case.
Young was able to get by his defender with ease in the first half and Jakob Poeltl, perhaps fearful of that, stands off of Young but allows Clint Capela to roam in behind and Young finds Capela on the lob and Capela finishes at the rim:
Case in point on the Hawks’ next offensive trip and Young blitzes by the defense to finish at the rim for the 2-for-1 opportunity:
A wild sequence to end the first half followed as the Hawks come up with the steal before coughing it up themselves...before coming up with the steal again and the play is completed with a Young floater to put the Hawks up by seven points entering the half, their biggest lead of the night at that time:
That quick run to end the quarter capped-off a 38 point quarter for the Hawks, shooting 65% from the field but what really blew this game open was the Hawks’ start to the third quarter. The visitors doubled their seven point lead to 14 points within a matter of minutes, beginning with another Young layup at the rim after Murray opened the third quarter with a three:
Young followed this with a long two-pointer to push the lead to nine points after Capela split a pair of free throws on the previous possession:
After two made free throws from John Collins, the Spurs turn the ball over and Young collects the loose ball. The Spurs collapse into the paint in transition while Young looms on the perimeter and drains the three-pointer to push the Hawks’ lead to 14 points and a San Antonio timeout.
The Hawks would go on to extend their lead to 20 points in the third quarter and when the Spurs made a run to bring the lead to 13 points, the Hawks seal the deal as Young, again, took over the game in the fourth quarter, scoring seven points in a row before a Bogdanovic three-pointer killed the game off for good.
Post-game, Hawks head coach Nate McMillan was pleased with his side’s execution on offensive and ball movement, patiently breaking down the Spurs’ defense.
“I thought we did a good job executing on the offensive end of the floor,” said McMillan post-game. “Defensively we didn’t do a good enough job keeping them out of the paint. They do a good job of moving the ball, almost like a passing-game offense that reverses the ball from side-to-side. Our closeouts need to be better, I thought we did that in the second half. I like our execution, I like our patience, ball movement tonight — 26 assists. When we get that type of ball movement we’ve guys that can shoot it and can put the ball in the hole.”
The Hawks did a great job not only creating through dribble penetration but making the pass once the defense collapsed...the ball movement in general was pleasing to watch.
Here, a Capela block fuels the Hawks in transition as Young finds Bogdanovic, whose quick little burst towards the paint frees up Kevin Huerter in the corner and a pump-fake from Huerter allows him an easy opportunity at a three-pointer, which he drains:
On this play, Young blitzes by Murray, collapses the defense, finds Danilo Gallinari on the perimeter who makes the extra pass to Lou Williams in the corner for the three:
Gallinari would be involved again in a Hawks assist as he makes a nice read to find Cam Reddish in the same corner for three:
Speaking of Reddish, this play was even a point of growth for him as this next shot would be one he would normally take but he spots Bogdanovic on the weak-side and Bogdanovic drains the three over Derrick White:
Lastly — probably the pick of the bunch — a drive from Delon Wright after the Collins screen and a gorgeous pass from Wright to Williams in the corner leads to a three-pointer at the buzzer to end the third quarter (another 38 point quarter for the Hawks):
Only a couple of Young’s assists on the game came in situations like these but where he excelled facilitating the ball was feeding it into the paint when the defense sprang a second man to him, or extended the pressure with Poeltl.
“He has the ability to create opportunities, there’s so much attention on him,” said McMillan of Young. “Especially when teams are putting two on the ball, it’s just a matter of getting off the ball and having the proper spacing. I thought tonight he did that. He got the ball out to the shooters, those guys knocked down shots.”
Young was undoubtedly the star of the show: 31 points on 14-of-22 shooting from the field to go with 11 assists (just two turnovers) and seven rebounds in just over 30 minutes.
With his 10th assist of the night, Trae Young has recorded his 67th 20+ point / 10+ assist double-double of his career.— Hawks PR (@HawksPR) November 25, 2021
Since the 2018-19 season, Young’s 67 20-point / 10-assist games are the second most in the NBA, trailing only Russell Westbrook (69).
Young took over in all the right spots last night and carried the Hawks to end the second quarter and to ice the game in the fourth quarter when he re-entered the game after the Spurs’ run to ensure this would not be a close game down the stretch. His floater was deadly and his passes incisive — a deadly combination.
However, he did have help.
Bogdanovic scored 18 points and hit 4-of-6 from three: big three-pointers too, a very good Bogdanovic game. Collins added 15 points but again provided much more than just offensive numbers as his defensive presence continues to solidify, something Capela can share in common as he continues to look better and better: 11 points and 13 rebounds for Capela but add to that three blocks and five steals in 32 minutes of play.
Elsewhere, Williams and Reddish added 12 points off the bench while Kevin Huerter and Gallinari added 10 points apiece — eight free throws coming by way of Gallinari.
A really solid team effort, and this has very much been the trend of late prior to this game.
across their 5-game win streak, the hawks have scored over 120 points per 100 possessions, with seven players averaging double-digits pic.twitter.com/j0tvdKH3zs— zach hood (@zhood_) November 24, 2021
The correlation of success when multiple Hawks step-up is, naturally, plain to see.
The Hawks had a season-high eight players score 10-or-more points in tonight’s victory.— Hawks PR (@HawksPR) November 25, 2021
Atlanta improves to 6-1 this season when at least six players score 10+ points.
Despite the Hawks’ sixth straight victory, there are aspects they want to improve upon; opponent offensive rebounding, arguably, sitting at the top of the list.
On the season, this hasn’t been a major issue for the Hawks (ranking 17th on the season in opponent offensive rebounds per game with 10.3) but over the last five games, the Hawks are comfortably 30th in opponent offensive rebounds per game, conceding 15 per game (the Nets, Magic and Kings are tied for 29th with 12.2).
The Spurs snatched 15 offensive rebounds last night, leading to 18 second chance points.
“That’s an area we’ve got to clean up,” McMillan said of opponent offensive rebounding. “We have to clean up that. Teams have been pounding us on the boards and obviously they are watching tape and seeing that they can attack us that way. We have to do a better job being physical, boxing out and limiting teams to one shot. Tonight they had 15 offensive boards. It’s going to be tough when teams are getting second, third opportunities and extra possessions. That’s the one area we know we have to clean up.”
“We can do a better job rebounding and helping our bigs rebound as guards,” added Young.
Aside from that aspect — which helped contribute to 48 points in the paint for the Spurs — the Hawks played a very solid game on the road, which is something that will be most pleasing for them given their struggles on the road this season: this was just their second road win of the season (2-8 on the road now).
“I like the chemistry that we’ve build tonight on the road, coming in on the road and playing in this building I thought we were solid for most of the night,” said McMillan postgame.
The Hawks (now returning above .500 with a 10-9 record following last night’s win) have an opportunity to improve their fortunes on the road as they’ll face a fascinating test on Friday against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum (...which I’ve only realized today is one word, apparently...)
Should be a fun contest indeed.
Until next time (and Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate!).