The Atlanta Hawks bounced back from Tuesday night’s defeat against the Pacers with an overtime victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night at State Farm Arena in another high-scoring affair, 147-145.
Trae Young scored a season-high 43 points, while De’Andre Hunter added 25 points. For the Nets, Mikal Bridges tied his career-high with 45 points with Spencer Dinwiddie adding 26 points.
In a back-to-back situation coming off the disappointment of Tuesday night, the Hawks picked up where they left off scoring wise and ran out to a double-digit lead in the first half of this contest, with Trae Young exploding for 19 first quarter points behind six three-pointers.
But while Young couldn’t sustain this hot shooting and cooled off significantly from this point forward, the Hawks kept rolling and scored another 77 points in the first half. However, the Nets weren’t to be outdone so easily, and they edged their way back into this game before taking the lead in the latter stages of the third quarter to set up a close fourth quarter.
Let’s take a look at some of the plays down the stretch in the fourth quarter to get to overtime.
After Dinwiddie hit a three to bring a four-point lead down to one point, the Hawks turn the ball over as Jalen Johnson gets caught in two minds where to pass the ball. Off the turnover the Nets attack through Bridges, who gets to the baseline and hits a shot with Murray draped all over him:
An unfortunate one for Johnson. Hunter was wide open and Johnson’s body initially leans in that direction, but he must have thought last-second the pass to Clint Capela underneath the rim was on. As for Bridges...great shot, that’s about all you can say. Not much Murray can do there.
However, what Murray could do was give the Hawks the lead again, as he drives into the paint and gets enough of a margin versus Dorian Finney-Smith and pulls up to hit the leaning shot to put the Hawks up by one:
Tough basket from Murray, as Finney-Smith gets up a good contest in the end here.
Following a missed three from Dinwiddie, the Hawks get a number of bites at the apple as Young initially gets into a floater after Murray’s loss of balance creates an opening. After the floater is missed the Hawks gather the offensive rebound and Young tries again underneath the rim but is blocked by Nic Claxton, although he maintains possession. This time, Young backs it out to the perimeter and drives inside but is forced to adjust amid the contest from Claxton at the rim and the shot is missed:
A number of opportunities went begging there for Young, the most glaring one probably the floater — a shot you’d expect Young to make in that situation. A three point margin here would have gone a long way given the time remaining.
The Nets this time do have a reply, as Bridges does so well again to scythe through traffic and get to the rim. And though his attempt is missed, Cam Johnson is on hand to follow the miss and score the second chance, giving the Nets a one point lead with 3.3 seconds remaining:
You’d look at Johnson initially here as to losing Johnson, but it’s Saddiq Bey who comes over and forces Johnson to focus on the corner shooter. This would be fine normally if Bridges didn’t just go by Bey as if he wasn’t there anyways... You could make a case that Bey was about to set himself up for a charge attempt but positioned himself incorrectly.
Coming out of the timeout, the Hawks get their break as Dinwiddie commits the foul on Young with time expiring, sending Young to the free throw line:
Young now has the chance to give the Hawks the lead with a second remaining but can only split the free throws to tie the game, giving the Nets a chance still to win at the buzzer. Out of another timeout, Bridges gets a shot off in time but is made to work hard enough for it, and between the clock, Murray and Johnson, they help force an airball from Bridges and to overtime we go:
In overtime, Young found his way, scoring 14 points on 4-of-7 from the field and 5-of-6 from the free throw line. In a lot of these shots you can see Brooklyn’s fatigue come to the foreground, they looked very leggy, for lack of a better term.
“I think some of the shots later on definitely can come from legs too,” said Young postgame.
Not so much in this first basket from Young, however, as he gets the desired switch but despite the contest on the long two, Young successfully connects:
Guarded by Bridges — who by this stage has done a monumental job in this game but his efforts have clearly taken their toll — you can see the fatigue and a brief moment of rest as he sags off ever so slightly is quickly punished as Young pulls up from the edge of the logo to hit a big three:
Inside the final minute of overtime, Young and Bridges would go back and forth, trading blows in the form of go-ahead baskets.
After two successful free throw to give the Hawks the lead, Bridges responds as he sizes up Hunter before pulling-up — fading back every so slightly — and hitting the jumpshot:
Young immediately responds as he challenges Finney-Smith off the dribble as he rejects the Johnson screen, and when Young hits the brakes inside the paint Finney-Smith is caught on his feet. The push-shot from Young is unchallenged and true:
Bridges again responds as he exchanges the ball with Claxton from near the baseline, and despite the number of Hawks bodies in his vicinity, none are able to put a stop to Bridges getting to his spot and his pull-up jumper is dispatched to give the Nets the lead:
Young and Hunter did well here defensively to help kill Bridges’ initial dribble. Give credit to Bridges: he evades Hunter’s dig, gets around Capela and leans back as Johnson steps up to contest the shot. Could Murray have been a little more involved at the end of this play? By the time Bridges gets the shot up Murray is much nearer to him than his original man, but other than that I thought the Hawks rotated and defended well here.
Out of the resulting timeout, the Hawks come again through Young, who gets the switch from Claxton, initially drives inside before pulling back and pulling up and frees enough space from Claxton to get the shot away. He hits it, giving the Hawks the lead once again with 17 seconds to go:
The Nets elect not to call timeout, and that decision is justified initially as Bridges gets the run at Murray and is seemingly gliding his way to another basket — only for Onyeka Okongwu to come out of nowhere to emphatically block the shot right into the hands of Young, who can seal the game at the line:
Terrific block from Okongwu here. Bridges was nailed on to score otherwise.
This time Young makes no error at the line and dispatches both free throws at which point the Nets take a timeout. Out of timeout, the Hawks arguably catch a break as Johnson is called for a trip-foul on Bridges, and in doing so results in Bridges shooting two free throws instead of attempting a three.
After Bridges hits both free throws, Young is sent back to the free throw line, where he again splits the pair to leave the Hawks a two-point lead. The Nets use their final timeout but with two seconds to spare are unable to get a shot off in time and the Hawks emerge as 147-145 victors.
A collective sigh of relief followed after the game from the Hawks faithful, who witnessed a second consecutive game in excess of 140 points for both sides, this time on the winning side.
In the last two games the Hawks have scored 299 points, the most in franchise history over a two game period as well as the first time scoring 140 points in consecutive games.
Over Atlanta’s last two games, the club has poured in 299 total points, the most total points over a two-game span in franchise history. It’s the first time in club history the Hawks have scored 140+ in consecutive games and the first time since Golden State to do so on…— Hawks PR (@HawksPR) November 23, 2023
Hawks head coach Quin Snyder, while not opposed to scoring points, was more mindful of the Hawks’ defense when asked about the scoring.
“The thoughts I have are more about our defense,” said Snyder. “It’s a lot of points obviously, (but) the other team scored a lot of points too. As I said, I think to the extent you can score a lot of points and still have a defensive mindset. That’s hard because if you’re scoring the ball every possession doesn’t seem quite as important because you’re scoring. I’m not saying I don’t want to score but I think that’s going to be the emphasis for us.”
Similarly, Young was quick to acknowledge that while they put up a lot of points the Hawks conceded far too many.
“We scored a lot of points but it’s more about the defensive end,” said Young. “We got to get stops. Allowing them to get 145 is too many points.”
Young led the way with 43 of the Hawks’ 147 points, and while he started the game so hot — shooting 6-of-8 from the field and 6-of-7 from three in the first quarter — he cooled off in a hurry. In the second, third, and fourth quarters Young shot 2-of-16 from the field and 1-of-6 from three, before recovering in overtime to shoot 4-of-7 from the field.
“I think that’s obviously one of Trae’s strengths,” said Snyder of Young taking over in overtime despite struggling prior. “He does want those opportunities in close games. The other part of it today too, when he was at his best he was doing that and find other people. That’s key for us. Of course the confidence with some of those threes, and we’ve seen him do that. I’ve seen him do it, he did last year, he does it this year. I think his willingness to do that and then also his willingness — if they are double-teaming — to get off (the ball) and let other guys make plays is a big thing for us.”
In the end, Young finished with 43 points on 12-of-31 from the field, 8-of-16 from three and 11-of-13 from the line to go with nine assists. A great start, a good end, and a tough in between, but Young produced when it mattered.
Elsewhere, De’Andre Hunter enjoyed a better night offensively, scoring 25 points on 8-of-16 from the field (despite shooting 2-of-7 from three) and it was his work going to the rim that Snyder was most impressed with.
“He was a man,” said Snyder of Hunter. “You see what he does defensively on the ball but sometimes what you don’t see is how he impacts the play off the ball. For him to go to the basket as strong as he did tonight, to be aggressive taking the shot, that’s what he works on. That’s not to discount other parts of his game but when you see him attacking the rim the way he did, that gives us a big boost. It’s really indicative of who he is as a player when he’s that aggressive.”
Again when it comes to Hunter, it’s the consistency that is frustrating to watch because you know a game like this is possible. Of course, in the back of your mind you can’t help but wonder if this will be followed up by a 4-of-14-type game. But give him credit, he was great last night.
Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu were great as well — both notched double-doubles and both made big plays throughout (Okongwu notably at the end), grabbing 13 of the Hawks’ 22 offensive rebounds (leading to 30 second chance points). Postgame, Snyder also spoke to their chemistry.
“Those two guys to get double-doubles, and they’re not in the game at the same time,” said Snyder of Capela and Okongwu. “It shows, one, how they played individually and I think it’s indicative of how well they play off each other and how much they support each other and encourage each other. They’re truly happy for one another’s success.”
The Hawks’ 30 second chance points were basically offset by Brooklyn’s 27 second chance points but the work of Capela and Okongwu on the glass was an extremely influential factor in this game that probably went under-appreciated.
Okongwu was part of a bench unit that, again, really produced: 12 points for Okongwu and Bey, while Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 14 points. AJ Griffin did make a brief appearance at the end of the first quarter for three minutes but did not feature again after that.
With Young’s struggles shooting the ball mid-game, it seemed to take the focus away from Murray’s own struggles, somehow scoring 20 points on 6-of-21 shooting but did dish out eight assists to make a more meaningful contribution offensively than the boxscore suggests, and did hit a big shot down the stretch in the fourth quarter.
The larger takeaway from this game is obviously the scoring numbers and the defense — both are quite remarkable, good and bad. It was certainly a wacky pair of games to finish this home-stand. It’ll be interesting to see what the Hawks come out with on Saturday defensively, because while most have enjoyed the scoring, there’s a universal opinion from the Hawks that they cannot allow this many points on a regular basis.
A good victory last night on the second night of a back-to-back, all things considered. I don’t think it means liftoff for their season by any means, but for the night it was encouraging to see them on the winning side of an overtime game.
The Hawks (7-7) are back in action on Saturday when they take on the Washington Wizards (2-12) in Washington on the first night of another back-to-back before taking on the Celtics on Sunday in Boston.
Until next time, and Happy Thanksgiving!