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Hawks offense found lacking again loss to Kings

A tough first half for the Hawks offensively.

Atlanta Hawks v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks began their brief California trip with a 122-107 defeat to the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center on Monday night.

Dejounte Murray led the Hawks with 35 points in the absence of Trae Young with Bogdan Bogdanovic adding 18 points. For the Kings, Harrison Barnes scored 32 points, and Domantas Sabonis added 14 points and 21 rebounds.

Similar to the Cleveland game on Saturday night, the Hawks were placed into a difficult situation. Sacramento has been off since Thursday, during which time the Hawks have played two games and made the long trip out west and did so without Trae Young, who was placed into the NBA’s concussion protocol. While the game didn’t start with a big Kings run, the first half — just like the Cavaliers game — proved to be decisive as the Hawks’ offense again got stuck.

The Hawks scored just 40 points in the first half on 24% shooting from the field, 15.8% from three on 3-of-19 shooting. While the offense picked up in the second half (67 points on 55% shooting) the Hawks were never able to bring what was once a 24 Kings lead below seven points, the damage in the first half offensively too much to repair.

Let’s take a look at some of the first half attempts.

Like the Cavs game, the Hawks were forced to settle at times for jumpshots, such as this one from Dejounte Murray, who couldn’t drive inside and pulls up for the mid-range:

The Kings defense played well in the first half, Sabonis providing a strong presence at the rim as Murray tries to take him on in transition but is well contested at the rim:

A tough shot inside here from Clint Capela, who is well defended by Sabonis:

The Hawks’ ball movement at times was good, and this possession was an example of that but the Kings’ rotations are snappy and they not only keep up but contest the eventual three from Patty Mills:

Again, decent ball movement here from the Hawks and Jalen Johnson drives inside but takes a tough shot off-balance, and can’t tip in the miss:

Johnson in particular had a difficult time of things last night offensively and took some tough shots at times, including this attempt on Keegan Murray inside:

Johnson shot 4-of-18 from the field and 1-of-7 from three, including tough drives, leaning shots, missed just wasn’t his night offensively as he appeared to make a concerted effort to pick up some of the offensive slack left in Young’s absence.

For the game itself, the Kings took a double-digit lead in the first quarter and the Kings’ lead would’ve been a lot higher had it not been for the efforts of Murray and Bogdanovic keeping the Hawks afloat. The Kings missed the chance to blow the game open in the second quarter as they failed on a number of possessions to take the lead from 13 points to a lot more than that, and similarly the Hawks missed their chance to close the gap during this stretch. In the third quarter, the Hawks began slow and the Kings stretched their lead to 24 points before the Hawks rallied and missed a big opportunity to reduce the deficit for the start of the fourth quarter with four empty possessions to end the third quarter. The Hawks brought the deficit down to single digits in the fourth but never looked as though they were going to take this one away from the Kings.

Postgame, Hawks head coach Quin Snyder was satisfied with how his side competed, despite the Kings’ aggressive defense.

“Proud of how we competed,” said Snyder. “I thought Sacramento is really aggressive, especially early defensively. Even in the second quarter we had a hard time scoring. I don’t know what we were in the paint, we had some good opportunities but the ball just didn’t go in for a stretch there. We hung in there and kept battling, Obviously not the result you want but those are the type of performances you can build on.”

Snyder believed the Hawks did get some good shots up — giving up a good shot for a better shot at times — and that his side were unlucky that some of the were missed, feeling as though there was a lid on the rim.

“We can obsess about our shots, we took good shots,” said Snyder when asked about shot selection. “Garrison passed one up and he knew it, but that wasn’t the story of the game. There seemed like it at times there was a lid on it for a little while. We had some possessions where a guy might have passed one up but sometimes it was to get a better one. There’s always a fine line there. You tell guys to move the ball and break the paint, have their eyes out and then they don’t shoot one you’re yelling to shoot it. I don’t want to be that coach where you can’t win. I was glad we were aggressive in spite of the fact it wasn’t going in and it came around for us.”

The Hawks got some good looks from three but I think the Kings also deserve credit for their defense — they did a good job preventing penetration at times and when the Hawks did get inside the shots were contested/made difficult.

This was the shotchart from the first half:

While the second half was obviously an improvement, the overall numbers still make for rough reading:

The Hawks’ 40 points in the first half includes 13 made free throws, which helped the situation seem less grim than it potentially could have been.

“Being able to get to the foul line when the ball is not going in is big,” said Snyder of the Hawks’ free throws. “Sometimes you see it go in and the next one you take from the field is a little easier. I thought we were attacking which got us to the line, which was good.”

With Young sidelined, it fell to Dejounte Murray to lead the offense and he did as well as could be expected given the situation and the inevitable usage, scoring 35 points on 11-of-23 shooting from the field, 6-of-10 from three and 7-of-8 from the line to go with 10 rebounds and six assists in 40 minutes. Murray played well, and produced buckets when the Hawks needed them but didn’t have the help he needed with Johnson’s struggles, Saddiq Bey shooting 4-of-11 from the field, and very little from the Hawks’ bench outside of Onyeka Okongwu and Garrison Mathews. It was, in one sense, a missed opportunity given the struggles of De’Aaron Fox who only scored 12 points.

The Hawks might be a little disappointed that Harrison Barnes scored 32 points given that he is averaging 11 points per game this season. The matchup with Bey certainly played to Barnes’ advantage but the Hawks would have likely taken their chances with Barnes shouldering the load with potential All-Star duo Sabonis and Fox combining for 26 points.

All-in-all, a solid effort from the Hawks in a spot that, again, wasn’t exactly favorable to them. The struggles of Johnson were tough, some tough shots in there at times and while Bey hit a couple of threes last night his struggles are still very much prevalent as the Hawks’ offense again shot below 40% for the second game in a row, which is the slightly larger concern.

The Hawks (18-25) are back in action on Wednesday night for the second game of their brief California trip as they take on the Golden State Warriors (18-22) at the Chase Center. The Warriors haven’t played a game since January 15th following the sudden death of assistant coach Dejan Milojević, in what will be an emotional affair in the Bay Area.

Until next time...