The Atlanta Hawks picked up their first victory of the 2022 Las Vegas Summer League with a 95-88 victory over the Miami Heat on Tuesday night.
Hawks rookie Tyrese Martin led the way with 21 points, while Chaundee Brown Jr. added 18 points. For the Heat, Javonte Smart scored 19 points, Kyle Allman Jr. added 14 points off the bench.
Having had a torrid time in their first two Summer League contests the Hawks put together their best outing by far on both ends of the floor, showing the developing chemistry that these teams can lack in their first few outings as everyone gets acclimated to each other.
The Hawks played with more urgency and better ball movement, highlighted by this possession in the second half where the Hawks move the ball unselfishly, turning down good shots along the way before Justin Tillman finishes the play at the rim, plus the foul:
After shooting 33% and 31.7% in their first two games — as well as shooting 21% and 12.5% from three — the Hawks came to life offensively, shooting 53.6% from the floor and 44% from three.
“We made shots,” said Hawks Summer League head coach Nick van Exel postgame. “We shot 53%, the first two games we were low 30’s. When you make shots you give yourself a chance. With that being said, what we talked about this morning was playing with the pace, playing downhill and making the extra pass. I thought those guys did a great job with that, and also the two point guards did a great job with the tempo of the game. They weren’t in too much of a hurry for most part of the game, they controlled the tempo of the game and made some really good passes.”
15 assists on the game doesn’t totally reflect the improved ball movement the Hawks displayed last night, nine of those coming from Sharife Cooper.
Cooper struggled again from the floor offensively, shooting 2-of-6 from the field for four points — now shooting 3-of-20 through three games — but Van Exel was pleased with Cooper’s passing as he tries to help Cooper slow down a tad.
“It was his pace,” said Van Exel of what he saw from Cooper. “Watching film with him and trying to help him understand when you go into the paint against these big trees it’s hard to finish. He has to slow himself down so he can see the whole floor, I thought he did that pretty good and made some good passes.”
There were a few instances where Cooper attempted to get inside and would find himself stuck. His struggles are highly unfortunate and in stark contrast to his 2021 Summer League and sorely needs to end his 2022 Summer League on a positive note as he vies for a roster spot for the 2022-23 season.
Another guard vying for a roster spot is Hawks second-round selection Tyrese Martin.
Martin scored a game-high 21 points on 9-of-14 from the field and 2-of-5 from three, including 13 points in the third quarter to help the Hawks pull away from the Heat — who had recovered from a 19 point deficit in the second quarter, including a stretch of scoring nine points in about 70 seconds, including this three-pointer:
Martin’s confidence clearly grew as the game progressed, pulling out the ‘too small’ gesture after he carves some space on the drive before converting:
“Tyrese is showing some stuff,” said Van Exel postgame. “I like to joke a little bit to keep the bunch loose and I drew up a play for him and he wanted it in the post. I said ‘You ain’t got no post game,’ and he was like ‘Yeah, give it to me in down there.’ I gave it to him and he made a really good move, he missed the shot but he’s showing people what he can do.”
“The game slowed down,” said Tyrese Martin via Annie Finberg of the Hawks. “It’s a different level for me coming from college — the game is definitely faster — so I felt after getting a couple under my belt it definitely slowed down out there, just get downhill and play within myself. I feel like myself.”
Martin has been the brightest spark of what has been a somewhat lacklustre Summer League for the Hawks so far — with AJ Griffin still sidelined with foot soreness — and his performances here bode well for his chances at a potential roster spot.
That said, there were other positives last night for the Hawks, such as Chaundee Brown Jr., who scored 18 points on 8-of-11 from the field. Brown excelled (Nick Van Excelled, if you will) getting downhill and finishing at the rim, as well producing this defensive highlight play:
Chaundee keeping everyone on their toes pic.twitter.com/fL0E6m3X3e— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) July 12, 2022
Oddly, Brown was one of two Hawks with a minus in plus/minus: minus+13.
Chris Clemons also enjoyed a stronger game, scoring 15 points on 4-of-8 shooting and 5-of-5 from the free throw line, including this strong take inside and finish at the rim:
Justin Tillman was inserted into the starting lineup for Alpha Kaba and struggled somewhat as he scored nine points on 4-of-11 shooting from the field to go along with eight personal fouls. Tillman’s Summer League has still been impressive despite Tuesday’s struggles and still continues to display a deft touch inside.
Overall, a much better outing for the Hawks and one they can build on as their Summer League begins to wind down. Hopefully the Hawks will see Griffin before that conclusion but until then their other draft selection in Tyrese Martin has provided a positive so far for the Atlanta Hawks.
The Hawks (1-2) are back in action on Thursday against the San Antonio Spurs (0-3) at 4 pm ET.
Until next time...