The Atlanta Hawks battled their way to a double-overtime victory on Thursday night as their road trip continued in San Antonio with a 134-129 victory over the Spurs.
Leading the Hawks — who were without the injured John Collins (with Solomon Hill being inserted into the starting lineup in his place) — Trae Young, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Clint Capela all scored 28 points, with double-doubles coming from Young with 12 assists and Capela with 17 rebounds.
For the Spurs —playing on the second night of a back-to-back — DeMar DeRozan scored 36 points while Derrick White added 29 points on seven three-pointers.
Obviously a lot unfolded during the course of this game, so if you need to catch up on some of the early-game, you can do so here.
Today, we’re jumping straight into things but we’ll set the table briefly... The Hawks led this one from the first quarter all the way through regulation and they never looked truly threatened — it looked comfortable at times but the Spurs kept them honest all the way.
The Hawks looked like they were well on their way when Bogdan Bogdanovic hit this three-pointer to put the Hawks up by six points with under three minutes to go:
Following a missed three-pointer by Dejounte Murray, the Hawks had the chance to push this lead to eight/nine points but Trae Young’s layup attempt at the rim doesn’t fall:
A nice drive by Young to get to that spot but Jakob Poeltl does enough here to make this a little tougher for Young.
From here though, it’s not the best advertisement for the Hawks.
After said miss, the Spurs attack in transition with Rudy Gay, who easily blows by Danilo Gallinari, who commits the foul and sends Gay to the free throw line:
The Hawks struggled with turnovers in the first half and found themselves in trouble again as Young’s bounce-pass to Gallinari is a little too low for him to handle and it results in a turnover:
After Patty Mills airballs a three-pointer, the Hawks again have a chance to add a bit of a cushion to their lead with just over a minute remaining. However, it’s an opportunity that passes them by as Young is credited for another turnover as his pass to Clint Capela is intercepted by Poeltl:
The bump from Murray I think does affect Young’s pass here but alas...back-to-back turnovers for the Hawks in this spot wasn’t ideal.
After said turnover, the Spurs again attack in transition this time with Murray as the Spurs, again, attack Gallinari in transition and do so rather easily:
The Suns did this on Tuesday night and other teams have done it too: Gallinari is a very easy target for offenses to exploit.
After a foul and two converted free throws from Trae Young the Spurs would try again but not before Young takes the personal foul as the Hawks switch defense for offense, with Kevin Huerter checking in. This was a little risky since it was Young’s fifth foul on the game. The Hawks had a foul to give at the time but that was it from then on.
The Hawks defend the ensuing possession well (though, Solomon Hill may consider himself lucky to not be called for a foul on the bump on DeRozan) and the possession ends with Clint Capela contesting Gay’s three-point attempt, which is missed:
At this stage — as the Hawks collect the rebound — the game is basically done: leading by four points with the shotclock turned off, needing to just advance the ball and absorb the personal foul to ice the game at the free throw line.
Kevin Huerter is the one to advance the ball forward but Derrick White pokes the ball free and the Spurs cut the lead to one point as Murray takes the ball inside and scores at the rim, plus the foul:
I’m not entirely sure what you can say for this play, I think that’s just a good poke-away from White, who is a fantastic defensive player.
The Hawks however, do still lead with the shotclock turned off, meaning the Spurs need to send them to the free throw line to get possession of the ball back. They send the Hawks’ star free throw shooter in Trae Young to the line where he splits the pair, giving the Spurs the chance to tie or win the game.
The Spurs go to DeRozan, defended by Hill, and DeRozan gets into the paint and hits the contested jumpshot to tie the game with two seconds remaining:
A very slight push-off there from DeRozan but that’s a quality shot-make from DeRozan.
The Hawks take their final timeout and they get a fantastic look out of it as Young gets downhill off of the ball, receives it, gets a fantastic look at a floater but it rolls off at the buzzer:
It capped off a tough fourth quarter for Young who — while hitting some big shots earlier in the quarter — was credited for those two turnovers down the stretch, splitting those free throws and missing that very makable shot.
Young, however, responded excellently in the first overtime period, scoring seven of the Hawks’ nine first overtime points, including this floater to give the Hawks a three-point lead with just over a minute remaining:
The Spurs immediately respond as Gay ties the game as Gallinari fails to pick him up and gets stuck on the screen trying to close-out:
To end the first overtime period, the Hawks have the chance to take the last shot in a tie-game situation with 16 seconds remaining. In the hands of Young, he take a little too long to get going — even with being shown the extra body — and when the ball is eventually swung to Bogdan Bogdanovic, time expires and a second overtime looms:
Fast-forward to just over two minutes remaining in the second overtime period, the Hawks hold a one point lead with the Spurs in possession of the ball. Tony Snell, who played a team-high 45 minutes, does well to contest DeMar DeRozan on the mid-range jumper and the Hawks have the opportunity to extend their lead:
Here, Young comes off of the Gallinari screen and punishes Rudy Gay for giving him the minimal amount of space and he hits the three-pointer:
Next, Gay attacks on the close-out by Gallinari, but cannot hit his jumpshot and Poeltl’s attempt on the second chance is also unsuccessful:
With under a minute and a half remaining, Young again comes off of the Gallinari screen and easily gets to the rim for the layup, giving the Hawks a commanding six point lead with just over a minute to go:
After a timeout and two free throws from DeRozan on the foul committed by Solomon Hill and a missed three from Young, it looked like the Hawks were collapsing again as Gay hits the deep three-pointer to bring the lead to one point and now the Spurs have a two-for-one opportunity:
Electing not to take a timeout, the Hawks come the other way and Young turns the corner, draws the defense, passes the ball to the corner to Gallinari, who fakes the pass to Bogdanovic, rises into the three and makes it to give the Hawks a four point lead with just under 12 seconds remaining:
Out of the timeout, White is called for a travel, giving the Hawks the chance to ice the game at the line...no turnovers this time:
Having failed to execute down the stretch against the Suns, the Hawks almost threw this one away too, from a commanding position this time around. It would have been a poor loss had that been the eventual outcome. Alas, the Hawks eventually outlasted the Spurs in the second overtime, who would’ve felt the lingering effects of having played the night before.
Postgame, Hawks interim head coach Nate McMillan praised the growth shown by his side despite their fatigue in a double-overtime game towards the end of an eight-game road trip.
“That’s the growth we want to see from our guys,” said McMillan postgame. “They kept believing in each other. You go into two overtimes on the road with chances to win the game, in regulation as well as the first overtime, and they continue to believe. We talked about all the things that are going on with this team right now, in the sense of the injuries that we have, we’ve been out on the road for a number of days and we are tired but we wanted them to dig a little deeper tonight and try to pull out all that they had and they did. We had to play a little bit more than 48 minutes but they stayed together, they continued to believe and they kept their composure and was able to pull out a really good win for us.”
The Hawks bungled a number of opportunities to tuck this game away down the stretch in regulation and at the end of the first overtime and were perhaps fortunate that, with the way things broke, they were the ones with the last shot of regulation/first overtime.
“Things like that happen where you don’t execute down the stretch,” said McMillan. “Think that was an opportunity for me to get a timeout and get our free throw shooters back on the floor and it didn’t happen that way. We got a second chance and was able to get it to overtime and win the game. These are things you have to do. You have to execute, we didn’t execute some plays down the stretch enough to win but we did in the last overtime. I thought it was an outstanding performance from our guys tonight.”
Young may have some tough moments down the stretch but he was certainly the star of overtime, scoring 15 points and dishing out four assists between the two overtime periods, fueled by his own miss at the end of regulation.
“Very, very personal,” said Young when asked if he took the missed floater at the end of regulation personal. “I felt like I should’ve hit the floater and ended the game there. I definitely feel I let my team down there.”
Between the miss and the beating the Spurs provided in early February (a game where they led by as many 42 points), Young and the Hawks were motivated to even things up.
“Just the motivation, they beat us pretty bad at home last time and I didn’t forget that and I know a lot of guys didn’t forget that,” said Young on picking things up in overtime. “Coach brought it up before the game so just wanted to play hard and finish the game out. Bogi was playing well, Clint was playing well, Gallo got some shots to go. Just wanted to finish the game out and get the win.”
While Young should’ve sealed the game in regulation and saved the need for two overtimes, his impact was undeniable, not just in terms of scoring.
Per @ESPNStatsInfo, Trae Young scored or assisted on each of the Hawks' 34 points over the final 15 minutes of tonight's game.— Hawks PR (@HawksPR) April 2, 2021
“I saw a kid that is showing growth managing the game,” said McMillan of Young. “He missed a layup, a shot he normally knocks down, in the first overtime. That could have just crushed a player. I thought he came back and made plays, he made a big three in that second overtime to give us a little bit of a cushion. I thought he did a really good job of managing the team tonight as well as the game.”
What makes Young’s performance in overtime stand out that little bit more was the fact he did it with a tweaked his knee, which occurred in the first half.
“It happened twice in the first half, both on some floaters,” said Young of his knee. “Just trying to take one last step to go up and my left knee was kind of buckling. Happened twice and it got pretty sore, went to the back and worked it out a little bit and tried to keep it warm when I was out there. Just trying to finish the game today.”
The injury report ahead of Friday’s game in New Orleans will certainly be one to monitor, and you can probably expect a few names to be added to it (Young likely included) with McMillan eluding to a perhaps different looking side today.
“We got see how we come out of this game as far as we have some tweaks with some guys,” said McMillan. “We’re certainly going to need our bench. I may look at changing our lineup just to try get some guys in there who didn’t play a lot of minutes, Kevin didn’t get a lot of minutes tonight. I’m thinking of changing our lineup to get some fresh guys in tomorrow night.”
It wouldn’t be too surprising if the Hawks perhaps looked to just recover somewhat and the likes of Young and Capela (who seemed to tweak his ankle slightly too, hobbling slightly on a play after a fall) perhaps rested but time shall tell.
McMillan referenced Kevin Huerter, whose 16 minutes and nine seconds on last night’s game was the lowest Huerter has played in a game since December 4th 2019.
This is a very unusual case for Huerter, who was someone who was relied upon arguably the most when Lloyd Pierce was coach, playing the most minutes for the Hawks in games in multiple instances as well as entire fourth quarters often. McMillan did rely on Huerter when Young was subbed out for defensive purposes, but it was a tough game for Huerter offensively, scoreless on 0-of-4 from the field.
Another possible contributing reason as to Huerter’s low minutes last night may have been due to the fact McMillan leaned on his other bench guards, deploying both Brandon Goodwin (who was fantastic in his nine minutes) and trade deadline acquisition Lou Williams, who made his second Hawks debut last night with seven points and five assists in 22 minutes.
In general, the Hawks’ bench/second unit was excellent and provided them a great lift and relief for Young to rest. Rookie Onyeka Okongwu arguably looked as good as he has done this season as he scored 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field. More than anything else, he just looked a lot more aware offensively and not lost as he has this season. He also produced a solid block on the game too:
The starting unit played very well too. Tony Snell did what he does: he hit a few threes and defended. Nothing massively stood out from Snell last night but a lot would’ve been asked of him and I think he did well. Young, we’ve obviously discussed already (and he was very good in overtime). anovic continues his resurgence on the road with another great showing last night: 28 points on 12-of-17 shooting from the field and 4-of-5 from three. Clint Capela also produced a good game with his 28 points, 17 rebounds, five blocks performance. Capela could’ve easily had over 30 points in this game, he missed multiple bunnies near the rim but he still played a massive role, including shooting 10-for-10 at the free throw line.
“I think it was shooting with confidence,” said Capela of shooting 10-of-10 from the line. “If you miss, you miss, you make it, you make it. That was my mentality, just shoot my shot. It went pretty well.”
While it took a little longer than it should have, the Hawks got the job done, and they got the result they ultimately deserved. The Spurs did push them but had they Spurs actually come out with this win, it would’ve been a win stolen from their point of view — the Hawks were the superior team for most of the proceedings last night, including both overtimes.
For the Hawks, a lot of players put in great performances and they’re not 3-4 on the road. Heading out west, the general consensus was that a 3-5/4-4 road trip — given the nature of their opponents — would’ve been a successful road trip. While the Hawks caught a break with LeBron James’ injury and they threw away winnable spots against the Clippers and Kings, they should be very happy to emerge 3-5/4-4, especially given how home-happy their schedule gets from here.
But first comes the last game of the trip with the Hawks (24-24) back in action tonight against the New Orleans Pelicans (21-26), who also played last night and lost in overtime to the Orlando Magic in New Orleans.
That said, the Pelicans should present a challenge for Friday’s game — a very tough spot for the Hawks to be put in, especially after a double overtime game. Alas, stranger things have happened.
Should be interesting.
Until next time...