The Atlanta Hawks returned from the All-Star break in style, pulling off a 15-point comeback in the final six minutes and securing a win over the Toronto Raptors. From there, the team returned to State Farm Arena for the first home game in more than two weeks, with the Sacramento Kings paying their annual visit to Atlanta. After an uneven start, the Hawks turned on the jets, and when the final buzzer sounded, Atlanta emerged with a 121-106 victory for their fourth consecutive win.
The home team struggled mightily out of the gate, particularly on the defensive end. Sacramento scored 24 points in the first seven minutes — with little resistance from Atlanta — and the Hawks dug a 14-point hole as a result.
On the more positive side, 8 of Atlanta’s first 10 points came from Clint Capela dunks.
8 early points for the big fella. pic.twitter.com/XosZfP6pMb— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) March 14, 2021
The Hawks did stabilize a bit, highlighted by an 8-2 run, but Atlanta still trailed by double figures at the end of the first quarter. Things flipped in a hurry, though, as Rajon Rondo keyed a massive run to begin the second period.
It was arguably the best single stint of Rondo’s season, attacking the rim offensively, generating havoc on the defensive end and pushing the Hawks to 11 straight points. After a timeout from the Kings, that extended to 18-2 overall, giving Atlanta the lead, then Kevin Huerter knocked down back-to-back threes to give the Hawks a 46-35 advantage.
All told, that run was 24-2 in favor of the Hawks, and it was the biggest reason why Atlanta took a 10-point lead into the locker room at halftime. One more reason was the play of Capela, who led the team with 18 points and seven rebounds in the first half.
Out of the break, the Hawks scored the first five points, building the lead to 66-51 after a three-pointer by Trae Young.
The Kings did awaken, but not before another highlight-worthy moment when Huerter found John Collins for a dunk.
Though Sacramento weathered the first storm at the outset of the third quarter, the Hawks left a dent on the second wave. Atlanta put together a 12-2 run, featuring two threes from Young, and that gave the Hawks an 85-66 advantage with 4:49 remaining in the period.
Atlanta led by as many as 23 points in the period before settling in with a 17-point advantage after 36 minutes of game action. The fourth quarter did include a mild push from the Kings, but the game was never in doubt, as the Hawks maintained a comfortable lead.
Of note in the closing period was that Tony Snell attempted (and made) his first free throws of the season. It took Snell 471 minutes to get to the line, which was the most in the NBA without a free throw in 2020-21. From there, Atlanta simply took care of business against an opponent that struggled to stop them, and the end result was a 15-point win.
Young led the way with 28 points and nine assists, needing only 32 minutes of court time to compile those numbers. Capela added 24 points and 14 rebounds in 27 minutes, with 16 points from Collins and 15 points from Gallinari.
With the win, Atlanta now owns a four-game winning streak for the first time since Apr. 2017. The Hawks now face a quick turnaround, with the Cleveland Cavaliers coming to Atlanta for a matchup on Sunday night.