SACRAMENTO – With a big performance from Kevin Huerter off the bench, the Hawks (17-20) held on to beat the Kings 108-102 at Golden 1 Center on Wednesday.

Next up, the Hawks will head to Los Angeles to continue their West Coast road trip, facing the Lakers on Friday and the Clippers on Sunday.

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Below are some takeaways from the win:

1. Hitting the court after a hard foul from Jusuf Nurkic in the Hawks’ loss in Portland on Monday, Trae Young missed this game due to a lower back contusion, so the Hawks were without their main weapon on offense. The Hawks got some good news Wednesday with John Collins, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Jalen Johnson clearing health and safety protocols, though none of that helped them against the Kings (16-24) since they weren’t available just yet. Getting Cam Reddish back from a right ankle sprain, they started a lineup of Delon Wright, Reddish, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Danilo Gallinari and Clint Capela. Without much depth, the Hawks only played eight players, the starters plus Huerter, Onyeka Okongwu and Lou Williams off the bench.

2. Huerter had an excellent game for the Hawks, leading the team with 25 points and a season-high 11 rebounds, plus five assists, a steal and some clutch plays down the stretch. That makes him the only player in the league this season to tally 20-plus points, 10-plus rebounds and five-plus assists as a reserve. With Young out injured, Huerter pumped some shooting and pop into a game when Hawks certainly needed it. Overall, the Hawks shot poorly from 3-point range (8-for-30, or 26.7%), but Huerter stayed aggressive and had success getting to the rim (10-for-18 field goal, 1-for-5 from 3-point range, 4-for-7 free throws). It was curious that Huerter, who has started 19 games this season and is one of the team’s go-to wings, came off the bench, but acting coach Joe Prunty said one of the reasons was to balance out lineups (especially given the limited players available).

“Kevin was great from the moment he came in the game,” said Prunty, usually an assistant but acting as head coach with Nate McMillan still in health and safety protocols. “We had talked this morning and said that he wasn’t going to be starting, and just to be ready to go, to be playing big and important minutes, and I thought he was great from the beginning. He helped keep us organized, as well, on both ends of the floor.”

3. The Hawks built up a 54-45 lead at halftime in a better defensive effort after giving up 136 points to the Trail Blazers, though a 10-2 run for the Kings to start the third quarter whittled it down to a one-point advantage. Leading by three entering the fourth quarter and up 98-95 with 1:30 to play, they gave up a 3-pointer to Tyrese Haliburton (24 points, three steals) to tie the score, though Reddish added a timely 3-pointer of his own. A layup and free throw by De’Aaron Fox (30 points, six assists) tied the score again, 101-101, with 37.7 seconds left, but a clutch driving layup by Huerter (plus two free throws after a foul by Fox) sealed the win. Although the Hawks have had their fair share of fourth-quarter struggles and defensive breakdowns this season, they bent but didn’t break in Wednesday’s victory.

“(Defense) is something we talked about a lot over the past couple days, obviously, something we’ve worked at a lot in practice yesterday, just going over the basics, fundamentals, talking about our effort level and it was for sure a step in the right direction today,” Huerter said.

caption arrowCaption
Atlanta Hawks guard Delon Wright (0) uses a screen set by center Clint Capela (15) on Sacramento Kings guard De'Aaron Fox during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022. (AP Photo/José Luis Villegas)

Credit: AP

Atlanta Hawks guard Delon Wright (0) uses a screen set by center Clint Capela (15) on Sacramento Kings guard De'Aaron Fox during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022. (AP Photo/José Luis Villegas)

Credit: AP

caption arrowCaption
Atlanta Hawks guard Delon Wright (0) uses a screen set by center Clint Capela (15) on Sacramento Kings guard De'Aaron Fox during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022. (AP Photo/José Luis Villegas)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

4. This was a solid game for Wright, who helped provide some stability in Young’s absence. Wright added 15 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals, playing nearly 40 minutes without committing a single turnover, finishing as a plus-nine. The Hawks tallied 20 assists to the Kings’ 15.

5. Against a struggling Kings team, this was an important win for the Hawks to check off, bouncing back from a rough loss in Portland and coming in the midst of their longest road trip of the year, a six-game, 13-day trip spanning 5,723 miles. Approaching the second half of the season, the Hawks are No. 12 in the Eastern Conference standings, and will need to start chipping away if they want to get back in the playoff picture (No. 1-6) or play-in tournament (No. 7-10).

Hawks 108, Kings 102

Stat of the game: 6, amount of Hawks in double figures (Huerter with 25, Reddish with 18, Wright with 15, Gallinari with 16, Luwawu-Cabarrot with 14, Capela with 11)

Star of the game: Huerter (came off the bench to lead the Hawks in scoring with 25 points)

Quotable: “It was kind of just offense by committee for most of the game.” (Huerter on the Hawks’ offense operating pretty smoothly despite missing Young)

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