Hawks survive close call, escape with win over Wizards

Wizards' Russell Westbrook is congratulated by Hawks' Trae Young after an NBA basketball game Monday, May 10, 2021, in Atlanta. Westbrook recorded his 182nd career triple-double, passing Oscar Robertson for the most in NBA history.
Wizards' Russell Westbrook is congratulated by Hawks' Trae Young after an NBA basketball game Monday, May 10, 2021, in Atlanta. Westbrook recorded his 182nd career triple-double, passing Oscar Robertson for the most in NBA history.

Credit: AP Photo/Ben Margot

Credit: AP Photo/Ben Margot

De’Andre Hunter returns in one-point home win over Washington

It came down to the final shot, but the Hawks (38-31) came away with a 125-124 win against the Wizards (32-37) Monday at State Farm Arena, getting a key player back in the process.

ExploreWhat Hawks need to clinch playoff spot

Next up, the Hawks will host the Wizards again Wednesday.

Below are some takeaways from the win:

1. After months struggling with a right knee injury, De’Andre Hunter returned to the court. Outside of a few rusty shots, Hunter looked sharp in his return, adding six points and three rebounds in 13 minutes, operating on a minute restriction. For chemistry purposes and the ability to slowly ramp up his activity and playing time, it’s great timing for the Hawks to get him back, with three games remaining in the regular season and the playoffs looming. This was Hunter’s first game back since playing two games in late March and re-aggravating his knee (he was first injured Jan. 29). He was the only Hawks’ bench player with a positive plus/minus (plus-2).

Clint Capela and De'Andre Hunter guard Wizards' Robin Lopez in the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, May 10, 2021, in Atlanta.
Clint Capela and De'Andre Hunter guard Wizards' Robin Lopez in the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, May 10, 2021, in Atlanta.

Credit: AP Photo/Ben Margot

Credit: AP Photo/Ben Margot

2. With the Hawks leading by 17 entering the fourth quarter, this game didn’t need to come down to the final shot (a Russell Westbrook miss from 3-point range, saving the Hawks from a second disappointing loss in a row). But, a rough stretch from Atlanta’s bench unit put it in a tough spot, with the Wizards narrowing the deficit to 10 before the Hawks made a sub. The Wizards were missing their leading scorer, Bradley Beal (who will also miss Wednesday’s game, due to a left hamstring strain), but their speed still frustrated the Hawks at times. Three quick 3-pointers from Davis Bertans and another 3 from Westbrook narrowed the Hawks’ lead to 119-118 with 2:23 to play. Up one, on the Hawks’ final possession, John Collins’ shot was blocked, but Westbrook missed his final attempt to seal the game. Overall, Washington’s bench outscored the Hawks’ bench 59-19. The Hawks gave up 45 points in the fourth.

“You probably could say a lot of similar stuff that we’ve been preaching throughout the year about us trying to hold leads, not turning over the ball, valuing each possession, I could go on for days about that… We made some clutch buckets down the stretch, got to the line, made our shots,” Collins said of the Hawks’ fourth quarter struggles. “We were able to close the game out. Didn’t really close it out the way we wanted to, but a W’s a W.”

3. On both ends of the floor, Collins played a great game. He finished with 28 points, eight rebounds and two blocks, and was active defensively. “He was a two-way player tonight,” interim coach Nate McMillan said. “Just solid, efficient, throughout the night.”

4. Trae Young had a game-high 36 points, adding nine assists and six rebounds. It wasn’t a perfect game from Young, as he added six turnovers and went 1-7 from 3-point range, but he had a strong second half (just one turnover, 16 points in the third quarter) to help the Hawks to a win. Bogdan Bogdanovic helped the Hawks’ 3-point efforts, going 7-12 from 3 and adding 25 points, the only Hawks player to make multiple 3′s.

5. The Hawks are now one step closer to securing a Top 6 spot in the Eastern Conference standings and avoiding the play-in tournament (7-10 seeds), and could clinch a Top 6 spot with another Celtics loss. They are .5 games behind the No. 4 Knicks and .5 games ahead of the No. 6 Heat.

Stat of the game

182 (Finishing with 28 points, 13 rebounds and 21 assists, Westbrook became the NBA’s all-time triple-double leader with 182, surpassing Oscar Robertson’s record)

Star of the game

Collins (played scrappy defense and added 28 points)

Quotable

“Giving up 45 points, that’s not us. It can’t be us. We want to have much stronger finishes than that, and tonight we got lucky.” (McMillan on the Hawks escaping with the win despite surrendering 45 points in the fourth)

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