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Trae Young’s defensive effort secures narrow victory for Hawks in San Antonio

Atlanta Hawks v San Antonio Spurs Photos by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks secured a hard-fought victory against the struggling San Antonio Spurs, prevailing with a final score of 137-135. The Spurs, entering and exiting the matchup with only two wins this season, faced a formidable challenge throughout the game. Despite a less-than-ideal start, with the Hawks yielding 35 points in the first quarter to a Spurs team averaging just 27.6 points in previous first quarters, Trae Young emerged as a game-changer in the second half, leading the Hawks to victory.

In the opening quarter, Trae Young faced initial challenges, starting 0-for-3 from beyond the arc. Onyeka Okongwu and Garrison Mathews managed to contribute the Hawks’ only two three-pointers in the quarter. Despite the early struggles, the Hawks found their rhythm later in the game, securing a crucial win against the Spurs.

Clint Capela drew the challenging assignment of guarding Victor Wembanyama, who opened the game with an impressive 10-point performance in the first quarter, shooting 4-for-5 from the field and contributing four rebounds, a block, and a steal. Meanwhile, the Spurs, led by Julian Champagnie’s perfect 3-for-3 shooting from beyond the arc, made six three-pointers in the quarter. The Hawks, allowing plenty of open three-point attempts, struggled both offensively and defensively early on.

The Hawks forced seven turnovers in the first quarter, with Dejounte Murray securing two of his game-high five steals.

In an interesting lineup change, the Hawks began the second quarter with Trae Young, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Saddiq Bey, Onyeka Okongwu, and Clint Capela. This marks the first time we have seen Onyeka Okongwu and Clint Capela share the court together. This adjustment appeared to be a strategic move to counter Victor Wembanyama, who was limited to just two field goal attempts in the second quarter. However, Jeremy Sochan stepped up with a 13-point quarter when Wembanyama took a step back.

De’Andre Hunter showcased a strong quarter, quietly contributing across the board with five points, three rebounds, two assists, and a steal. Both Hunter and Capela picked up two personal fouls in the second quarter. By halftime, they both had three fouls. However, the second quarter saw an improved performance from the Hawks, outscoring the Spurs 36-31.

The Hawks managed to tie the game very early in the third quarter, but it proved to be a shootout from then on. Each team scored 39 points. Trae Young scored 20 by himself, including the final 12 points of the quarter. Both Murray and Young made impressive mid-ranges over the outstretched Wembanyama, with Young’s coming at the buzzer.

The Hawks entered the fourth quarter with a four point deficit. Trae Young continued to be exceptional. He scored a quick two field goals, and after garnering attention, he had no problem delivering dimes to his teammates. He logged six assists in the fourth quarter alone to go with his 13 points. De’Andre Hunter would foul out of this game, in what both sides believed to be a questionably called game.

The Spurs had no choice but to double Young on screens, and Young took full advantage.

However, the end to this game was a wild ride. Trae Young hit the final field goal for the Hawks in an incredible fashion.

After the Hawks secured a four point lead, the Spurs came down court with a chance to cut it to a single possession game. Clint Capela played great defense on a driving layup from Wembanyama and the Hawks secured the defensive rebound with approximately 50 seconds left. On the other end, Trae Young baited Jeremy Sochan into a foul and knocked down both free throws. Leading 134-128, the Spurs would call a timeout before their next offensive possession. Bogdanovic was called for a foul on a layup attempt from Zach Collins, and Collins sunk both free throws. With the Hawks leading by four, Keldon Johnson fouled Trae Young in the bonus. Young sunk both free throws at the line.

However, the Spurs showed no quit. Jeremy Sochan made an impressive corner three-point attempt over Trae Young, narrowing the lead to just three. They immediately fouled Trae Young, who went one for two at the stripe. Again with a four point lead, the Hawks played great initial defense, forcing Wembanyama into a bad three attempt. But, Keldon Johnson grabbed the offensive rebound and hit a layup to cut the lead to two.

In a wild series of events, Saddiq Bey turned the ball over on the inbound. Jeremy Sochan secured the steal and came down court on the fast-break. Despite a remarkable offensive performance, Trae Young ultimately sealed this game with his defense.

The Hawks finished the game shooting 49-of-96 from the field, 14-for-33 from beyond the arc, and 25-for-29 from the free-throw line. Despite the impressive overall performance, Trae Young surprisingly missed three free throws and expressed his disappointment on Twitter/X.

The Spurs concluded the game with a 48-for-89 shooting performance, making 18 of 41 attempts from beyond the arc and 21 of 23 free throws. While conceding 135 points to one of the league’s statistically weaker teams may not be commendable, the Hawks clinched a hard-fought victory by just two points. As the saying goes, whether you win by 50 or by two, it only counts as one win.

Trae Young delivered an outstanding performance with 45 points, 14 assists, and two steals. Dejounte Murray contributed 24 points and five steals. Notably, Hunter, Bey, Capela, Bogdanovic, and Okongwu all achieved double-figure scoring for the Hawks. Six Spurs players reached double figures. Jeremy Sochan led with 33 points while Vassell, Wembanyama, and Johnson each exceeded 20 points.

Despite the relatively even play, the Hawks secured an impressive 14 steals compared to the Spurs’ four. In the post-game interview, Quin Snyder commended Trae Young’s defensive efforts, acknowledging the Hawks’ defensive challenges and highlighting the increased difficulty with Jalen Johnson sidelined.

Trae Young and Dejounte Murray did their post-game interview together. Dejounte Murray spoke to how the Hawks can improve defensively.

When asked about his game-winning take charge, Young said all of his teammates made winning plays. The Hawks creep back to 9-9 with this win. They will have a chance to go positive versus the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday.