The Atlanta Hawks (12-18) looked to get back to winning ways against the Sacramento Kings (17-12) at State Farm Arena on Friday night, having dropped their last three games in a row.
The Kings entered this one fully healthy, while the Hawks were without De’Andre Hunter, who will be sidelined for the next few games with right knee inflammation, Seth Lundy (ankle) and Mouhamed Gueye (back). This is the first meeting between these two sides this season, with Sacramento taking home the victory in their two matchups last season.
Ball movement was clearly a priority for the Hawks early on, and they raced out to an early 18-6 lead. Trae Young racked up 4 assists in the first five minutes - including this dime to Clint Capela.
Dejounte hits a 3 to give the Hawks an 8-0 start. pic.twitter.com/cqTwumwDKk— Bally Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnBally) December 30, 2023
Atlanta erupted after the first timeout break, using good ball movement, hot outside shooting, and stout defensive rebounding to go on a 15-0 run over the next three minutes, and took a commanding 31-8 lead.
3's company for Saddiq & Garrison pic.twitter.com/zeWNzFiOYC— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) December 30, 2023
Dejounte ➡️ Saddiq ➡️ Bogi ➡️ Garrison ➡️ Onyeka ➡️ Saddiq ➡️ Dejounte— Bally Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnBally) December 30, 2023
Hawks lead, 31-8. pic.twitter.com/RDc9aRv4cU
Defensive rebounding has been an issue for Atlanta as of late, so it was encouraging to see the Hawks limit the Kings to just 1 offensive rebound in the first quarter.
That being said, Sacramento’s offense began to heat up towards the end of the opening frame, and they were able to cut Atlanta’s lead to 36-23 heading into the second quarter.
After shooting just 2/11 from the perimeter in the first quarter, Sacramento hit four threes in a hurry to start the second period, however Atlanta’s offense continued to churn out high quality looks like the Bogi triple below, and they maintained a 46-35 point lead at the 9:00 mark of the second quarter.
A quick 8-2 Sacramento run cut Atlanta’s lead to just 5 points midway through the second quarter, before Atlanta responded with a 23-10 run of their own to take a 71-53 lead into the halftime break.
Trae Young and Jalen Johnson linked up for some pretty transition plays in the second quarter, including a MONSTER jam by Johnson in the second clip below.
Trae and Jalen fastbreak combo is a runaway pic.twitter.com/rQjNi1Rqik— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) December 30, 2023
JALEN TYRESE JOHNSON RIM DEMOLITION pic.twitter.com/IsEi2M8Xc6— Bally Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnBally) December 30, 2023
Dejounte Murray led all scorers with 16 points (on 6/10 shooting, 4/5 from three) at the half.
While the Young to Johnson connection continued to be a fruitful source of offense for Atlanta in the second half, Sacramento continued to play hard, and managed to cut the Hawks’ lead to 78-71 with 6 minutes to play in the third quarter.
Not the first Trae crossover that ended with Jalen dunking tonight pic.twitter.com/yRQn9BCn8m— Bally Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnBally) December 30, 2023
It was back and forth for the rest of the period, and Atlanta led 91-86 heading into the fourth quarter. After a quiet first half, De’Aaron Fox was red-hot in the third quarter, pouring in 13 points on 4/8 shooting (3/6 from three).
Atlanta got the fourth quarter started on the right note, going on an 11-5 run to take a 102-91 lead with 9 minutes to go. As they had done all game though, Sacramento refused to go away, and a Sabonis lay-in with 6:45 left to play cut Atlanta’s lead to 105-100, forcing Quin Snyder to call timeout.
A few possessions later, a De’Aaron Fox three-pointer gave the Kings a 1-point lead (their first lead of the night) with 5:45 to go, setting up yet another tight finish for this Atlanta Hawks’ team.
This tough and-one from Trae Young put Atlanta up by 2 with 4:45 remaining.
However, a Malik Monk lay-in on the next Kings’ possession knotted the game at 110. After misses by Young and Murray, Chris Duarte hit a corner three-pointer to give Sacramento a 113-110 lead with 3:27 remaining.
After two more misses by Young and Murray, a Sabonis free-throw put Sacramento up by 4, before Trae Young was called for an offensive foul on the following possession to give Sacramento the ball back.
After a Capela block, Atlanta created a good three-point look for Dejounte Murray from the corner which would have cut the Kings’ lead to 1, however he couldn’t convert, and a Keegan Murray floater on the other end put Sacramento up by 6 with under a minute left to play, all but sealing the result.
This was yet another frustrating loss for Atlanta, as they were unable to hit a shot over the last 4:45 after showing the ability to get create high quality offense earlier on in the game.
Trae Young finished with 24 points and 9 assists. Jalen Johnson had 16 points and 15 rebounds.
Atlanta is back in action on Sunday afternoon, where they will be taking on the Washington Wizards.