Trae Young led seven Hawks in double-digit scoring with 31, with Bogdan Bogdanovic adding 16 points off the bench. For the Wizards, Bradley Beal scored a season-high 37 points while Kyle Kuzma added 28 points in the absence of Kristaps Porzingis.
For obvious reasons the focus shifted to newly appointed head coach Quin Snyder, who took the reigns for the first time on Tuesday night as he got an eye into just the squad he’s inheriting. For the most part, it felt like he allowed the Hawks to go out and express themselves — perhaps typified by their sloppy play at times — and the Hawks ended up with a double-digit lead in the third quarter in what was a bit of a slog overall. The Wizards chipped away at the lead and made this a game in the fourth quarter. The Hawks held the lead for much of it but a Young turnover followed by a Kuzma basket gave Washington the lead with three minutes to go:
A tough spot for Young to get into with the ball sticking on that possession but, nevertheless, it set up the remainder of the game, one we’ll take a look at to see how the Hawks lost this one.
Dejounte Murray immediately responds as the Hawks attack the Daniel Gafford pick-and-roll, the high screen from Clint Capela gives Murray the space he needs to drive inside and finish at the rim:
In kind, the Wizards attack Young through Beal after getting the switch off the screen, who gets the jump on him and the help from Capela can’t prevent Beal from making the basket:
Murray not doing his part by helping on the Beal drive — even with a dig — doesn’t look great on play-back, he certainly could have done a little more.
Young looks to make a quick reply and attacks the rim early but is blocked convincingly by former Hawk Delon Wright. On the reset, the Hawks try to get a switch with Gafford again but when Murray rejects Capela’s screen, he tries to shake Deni Avdija and works himself into a decent look but can’t hit the jumper:
The Hawks come up with the stop they need as Capela blocks the attempt from Wright, fuelling another fastbreak opportunity. Again, Young pushes in transition but is blocked again, this time by Kuzma. Again, Murray tries to set up a second chance and swings it to De’Andre Hunter, who works his way into an open three but misses:
The Hawks certainly had enough possessions down the stretch to retake the lead but were wasteful.
After securing the rebound off that Hunter miss, Beal outlets the ball beyond mid-court and this causes chaos for the Hawks as Hunter wrestles for the loose-ball with Wright, who wins the duel and gets the ball to Kuzma and the Wizards draw the foul and free throws:
This was extremely poor from Saddiq Bey who fell behind defensively thinking the Hawks would come away with the ball and then a completely unnecessary shove on Gafford trying to get back in position after realizing he was no where near the play having allowed the Wizards a 2-on-1 after Wright got the ball to Kuzma.
Gafford would split the free throws (giving Bey an undeserved reprieve for his lapse) and the Hawks again target Gafford in the pick-and-roll and Young gets the jump but this time Gafford is able to recover and block the shot from behind:
The Wizards attempt to get a switch of their own but in the end Beal is faced by Murray, who is quickly undone by Beal’s quick pull up jumper, which he nails and gives the Wizards a four point lead, leading to an Atlanta timeout:
The Hawks did well to avoid an unfavorable switch but Beal was so quick in his pull-up and makes a quality shot.
The Hawks would come out of the timeout absolutely needing a basket and they get one through Young, who hits the contested three:
Trailing by two possessions, the Hawks always had to go quickly if they wanted another possession — this was the best possible outcome coming out of the timeout.
Out of the Washington timeout, the Hawks again avoid the Young switch onto Beal but the Wizards guard is still able to beat Murray quite easily as Beal leans in and banks off of glass to give the Wizards a three point lead:
Unless the Hawks had planned to try push off of a miss here, it makes zero sense why Young and Bey were in the game defensively in the first place with a timeout to spare, a timeout they take after the make.
Out of the timeout, the Hawks get two good looks from distance, both from Young but neither go down and the Wizards secure the victory:
Two really solid looks from Young, and I thought — and I’m sure many others did too — that the second one at the buzzer was going to fall. Alas, it did not and the Wizards take the first of four meetings between the two sides.
Plenty for Quin Snyder to get his eye in and plenty for him to digest when it comes to getting to know his new team.
“There were some good things and things we can better at, there’s things I can do to help us as well,” said Snyder postgame. “A lot of different things that went on tonight that we can pay attention to all of them and work on them in different capacities.”
The fourth quarter stretch will be one area that Snyder will look to but he was relatively happy with the looks the Hawks got, even if they didn’t fall.
“Beal obviously got going, they were trying to put him in situations where he had an advantage,” said Snyder of the stretch. “We adjusted our pick-and-roll coverage to try to address that. He made some tough shots down the stretch. The ball didn’t go in for us—it’ll be good to watch the film, I thought we got some really good shots in the course of the game.”
Clint Capela believed that the Hawks not being able to produce defensive stops hurt their ability to get out in fastbreak which didn’t help their offense.
“I feel like we didn’t make the stops,” said Capela. “Offensively, obviously when you don’t make stops it’s harder to create a momentum offensively to create fastbreaks. We could have had better shots offensively but I’m sure if we had made more stops defensively it would have helped for sure.”
Trae Young, meanwhile, took responsibility for his part in the offense slowing down the stretch by saying he thought he didn’t do a good enough job down the stretch.
“They did a good job of scoring and I had a couple of shots that got blocked, just didn’t get good shots up,” said Young. “I think we could have done a better job of closing out the game. We had a lead but it’s tough because we feel we had a chance to win. I don’t think I did a good job of closing out the game tonight.”
Young did not take great shots down the stretch going to the rim but Snyder enjoyed the aggressiveness in how the Hawks shot the ball as a whole, as well as their fightback on the defensive glass after Washington snatched 11 of their total 16 offensive rebounds in the first half.
“I liked how aggressive we are shooting the ball,” said Snyder. “One of the things I thought they did very well was offensive rebound, and there was a stretch — especially early in the game — where it was too easy for them and I thought we responded and we did a much better job. Sometimes when we’re switching and your bigs are on the floor it’s tough to rebound with guards. You can tell them block out and all of that when they’re trying to block out a 6-11 guy but when there’s athleticism and strength it’s tough. I thought we competed.”
Guard rebounding was an aspect Nate McMillan highlighted often, so it is noteworthy that Snyder is referencing it as well off the bat, and it will be interesting to see his philosophy on the subject and how he goes about it.
The Hawks played a little faster in their offense last night, something that Snyder wanted to see and enjoyed Dejounte Murray’s work in that, even if many of his shots didn’t fall (shooting 7-of-18 from the field).
“I felt, DJ for instance I loved the shots he took,” said Snyder when asked about playing faster. “Over time the averages play out and I thought we didn’t react to the ball not going in and we kept attacking and kept shooting. When you take those shots it’s going to allow us to get to the rim as well. The emphasis as much as anything was not just playing fast but thinking fast and making quick decisions and not letting the ball stop, and I thought we did a good job of that.”
Speaking of Murray, Snyder was in regular discussion with both Murray and Young throughout the game. What did these discussions entail?
“A little bit of everything,” said Snyder when asked about the discussions taking place with Young/Murray during the game. “I think with both DJ and Trae ... I want to know what they’re thinking because they’ve played more together than I’ve coached together with them. ‘What do you want to run?’ and I’ll have an idea and they’ll have an idea. I trust them and that’s what we decided, to trust each other and start there. That’s a process as well. I think it accelerates if I know what they’re thinking.
“With DJ it was a number of things, it was ‘keep shooting,’ because I thought he got great looks. We were talking some things defensively where we put Trae in a ‘show’ when they were trying to switch him on Beal. Some little things, going over and under and hand-offs and I thought we got into some switching situations...those are the kind of things we’re talking about.”
“He was talking to us constantly and getting our thoughts on what’s going on in the game and trying to read things,” added Trae Young of the dialogue with Snyder. “We were talking throughout the game about how we’re going to finish the game. It sucks because it’s going to take time, it’s a process like a lot of people say. We’re going to get it right. He’s a smart guy you can already tell with some of the plays that we run. We’ve just got to continue to get better and we’ll learn more from each other each and every game.”
You could see down the stretch a few possessions where Young showed on the switch and then Murray would track back in front of Beal, so a couple of early changes already you can see defensively.
Snyder believes he can certainly help the Hawks improve and is eager to get into the film to find out exactly how, but personally enjoyed being back on the sidelines after almost a year, admitting that situationally he’s still getting back into the flow of it all again.
“It felt good,” said Snyder of being back on the sideline. “There are situational things that for me they’ll start coming back. It’s part of getting to know this group of guys and what I can hopefully help them even more, I felt like I could help them more. I’ll look at it and figure out how I can do that too.”
There’ll be plenty for Synder to readjust to and plenty for him to sink his teeth into the game itself. Speaking of, it was a bit of a disappointing loss for the Hawks having come off two good victories against Cleveland and Brooklyn.
Washington’s 22 second chance points really helped their cause, as did the late-game execution of Bradley Beal. The Hawks floundered down the stretch — it was really messy. Even off of their misses they got a number of second chances and failed to convert any of those.
They were wasteful down the stretch and that really was the difference in this game — that’s all there was to it.
Young scored 31 points on 11-of-26 from the field but while six others scored in double-digits, the most was 16 from Bogdanovic off the bench who played well. Murray struggled shooting the ball — the rest of the starters shot efficiently but didn’t get many shots overall.
The Hawks drop the first of four meetings with the Wizards, and with the Wizards 1.5 games behind the Hawks with three more meetings to come these games are important. As much as Hawks fans want to look ahead and make up the margin to the playoffs, there are more teams closer to the Hawks in the rearview (Toronto are just half a game back) than teams they are closer to in front of them. The Hawks will go on the road next week where they’ll face the Wizards twice more.
The Hawks (32-32) are back in action on Friday to wrap up their homestand against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Should be fun.
Until next time...