The Atlanta Hawks met the Brooklyn Nets in the Barclays Center as part of a two-game trip to the biggest population center in the country. The Hawks were looking to bounce back from a lopsided loss to the Knicks just two days earlier, and needed to find a way to compete without three of their usual starters. Dejounte Murray and John Collins, out with ankle sprains, as well as De’Andre Hunter, out with a hip flexor injury, could only watch as the Hawks took the Nets to the brink but failed to secure a win, 120-116.
With the Nets’ two offensive superstars of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant each pouring in 30-plus points, the Hawks were able to match that feat with Trae Young and Bogdan Bogdanovic, who recently returned to action from offseason knee surgery and was subject to a minutes restriction from the coaching staff.
Trae Young had 22 of his 33 total points in the first half alone, dicing the Nets up with decisive drives and floaters. He shot 12-for-25 (48%) to hit that 33-point mark and added nine assists to go along with it, although Young did turn the ball over eight times including one with under two minutes left in the contest.
Watch Young form an ad hoc pick-and-roll duo with Bogdanovic and find space to finish high off the glass.
Trae Young uses his anticipation well to jump this entry pass to Irving and take it the other way for two.
Bogdan Bogdanovic had his best game of the young season in just his fourth game after returning from rehabbing his knee from a summer surgical procedure. Bogdanovic finished with 31 points on just 18 shots, including going 7-for-9 (78%) from three-point range.
On his first three of the night, even though the dribble-handoff is fumbled, Trent Forrest gives him a great screen and allows ‘Bogi’ to recover and drain a deep shot.
In this next transition possession, Bogdanovic has the awareness to let the recovering Edmond Sumner fly by with a pump fake, side dribbles, and steps back as he buries the wide open triple.
After being down as much as 12 points in the third quarter, the Hawks clawed back to take a 109-108 lead in the fourth quarter. But a series of miscues ultimately doomed their chances late in the fourth quarter.
The Nets used a 5-out small ball lineup with three guards, Kevin Durant, and the 6’6” Royce O’Neale nominally at center to close the contest. That deployment put the Hawks’ frontcourt in a bind in this next play as Harris easily beats Clint Capela off the dribble, and the Hawks can’t recover quick enough to pick up the most dangerous man on the court two passes later.
The very next play, the Hawks can only muster an awkward off balance attempt by Trae Young, and the Nets aggressively push the ball in transition and score off the miss.
A couple of plays later, after forcing a missed Durant pull up jumper, Young comes down and dazzles with an assist to Capela off the backboard to pull within two points.
TRAE OFF THE BACKBOARD TO CLINT pic.twitter.com/nMksRhtUS8— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) December 10, 2022
A little later, the Hawks never recover into their half court defense after a sideline entry pass. Trae Young aggressively doubles Kyrie Irving from receiving the inbounds, but Seth Curry is able to get the ball and blow by a backpedaling Capela, draw in the defense, and once again kick to the best player on the court.
Young is able to work into the empty lane here and hit a high finger roll off the glass above Durant’s huge reach to pull within three points.
However on the next possession, the Hawks force two misses but fail to secure either rebound, forcing the Hawks to foul with around 10 seconds left in the contest, effectively salting the game after two made free throws.
“There were a couple of possessions where we gave up an offensive rebound on the free throw line,” said head coach Nate McMillan postgame. “Offensive rebound on the long three. Those are things that good teams like [the Nets] make you pay.”
“We fought the whole game,” Trae Young commented, proud of the team’s effort. “Everybody played hard.”
“It’s always fun competing against two of my idols I grew up watching and wanting to be like,” Young had to say about Durant and Irving. “Taking parts of their game. I see them in the summertime. We work out a lot.”
“He’s not hesitating, which is good,” McMillan noted about Bogdanovic’s performance Friday night. “He’s not concerned about his knee. The first couple of games he made some shots. Missed some shots. Tonight, it seemed like he had his rhythm. He was able to knock down shots. We just ran into a [minutes] restriction.”
While he is not yet released from a minutes restriction, Bogdan Bogdanovic ended up logging 34 minutes on the night, second only to Young’s 37 minutes for the Hawks.
McMillan later talked about how the he, the trainer, and Bogdan Bogdanovic all came together to decide on keeping him in the game late. “The game was close,” McMillan said. “It was going to be a few minutes over the restriction. All three of us agreed. I asked the question ‘Could we get him for a couple of more minutes?’ And [Bogdanovic] felt okay to play a few more minutes.”
“Anytime ‘Bogi’ is on the court, it’s always fun playing with him,” said Young about his running mate. “When he’s in attack mode and he’s making shots like he did tonight, it’s really fun.”
“[Young] wasn’t feeling well yesterday,” McMillan had to say about his star guard missing practice the previous day. “Today, I thought he gave us all that he had. Both he and ‘Bogi’ did a good job of creating some points and leading this group and giving us a chance to win this game.”
The loss drops Atlanta down to an even .500 winning percentage and a 13-13 record. Atlanta now returns home for a Sunday evening battle with the Chicago Bulls as they look to end a three-game slide.