The Hawks (31-30) won their second consecutive game, topping the Nets 129-127 on Sunday at State Farm Arena.
Here are five observations:
1. The Hawks found themselves in a shootout down the stretch. Dejounte Murray hit a much-needed 3-pointer to put the Hawks up 121-117 after a pair of free throws from Mikal Bridges pulled the Nets within one. But officials called Onyeka Okongwu for a foul despite Cam Thomas stepping on his foot.
A floater from Trae Young, who had 34 points and eight assists, followed by a steal and layup from Murray allowed the Hawks to begin pulling away. Then Young knocked down a pair of free throws to give the Hawks a 127-119 lead with 1:17 to go.
But miscues on defense allowed the Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie to dunk in transition, and Dorian Finney-Smith hit a 3 in transition to get Brooklyn back within 3. The Nets burned the Hawks again out of the timeout as they drove and kicked the ball out to an open Cameron Johnson in the corner. He knocked down a 3-pointer to tie the game at 127 with 7.3 seconds left.
The Hawks made personnel adjustments out of the timeout and made Murray the inbounder. In similar situations, Young has often inbounded the ball, but the Hawks made sure to find their guy late. Young hit a pull-up jumper from the free-throw line to seal the game.
“(Hawks interim coach Joe Prunty) just wanted to give me space and gave me the top of the floor, and I just got to a spot and just tried to make (Bridges) jump,” Young said.
2. Despite allowing the Nets to take a 78-73 lead halfway through the third quarter, the Hawks responded. The Hawks have struggled with adjusting in games as opponents dial up the pressure, but their second unit helped Atlanta to regain control of the game.
The Hawks held the Nets to four points in four minutes to set themselves up for a second consecutive win.
The bench, led by Bogdan Bogdanovic, outscored the Nets 40-36. Bogdanovic has capitalized on his fresher legs out of the All-Star break, making 7 of 11 shots from beyond the arc over the team’s last two games. He scored 22 points, had six rebounds, three assists and two steals.
3. The Hawks slowed down considerably after they got off to a hot start against the Nets. They shot lights out through the first quarter and the opening half of the second quarter. But the Nets turned up the physicality and stopped the Hawks from moving throughout their next options.
The Hawks led 57-39 with 5:36 left in the second quarter before Thomas went on an 11-2 individual run, cutting the Hawks’ lead to single digits.
That pressure on the Hawks carried over into the final quarter, with the Nets outscoring them 65-60 in the second and third quarters.
4. The Hawks took advantage of the Nets playing a mostly smaller lineup and leaned on Okongwu a little longer. He played 28 minutes Sunday, and starting center Clint Capela played 19.
Okongwu had a strong outing, as he helped the Hawks hold the Nets to 44 points in the paint and eight second-chance points. The Hawks asked a lot of Okongwu, and Prunty noted that he checked in with the center often to make sure he was OK.
“He comes in, literally may have played 17 straight minutes,” Prunty said. “And with that, I know he’s tired. And I know there’s been some situations where he’s had to switch on the ball, and he’s had to run from the perimeter to go and rebound.”
5. In addition to leaning on Okongwu, the Hawks leaned on John Collins. Collins, a 25-year-old forward, returned from concussion protocol and played in the matchup despite dealing with lower back soreness.
Collins had a minutes restriction, and Prunty declined to detail what it was but acknowledged that the team burned up his minutes earlier than planned. He noted the team greatly benefited from it as Collins helped the Hawks regain momentum and eventually build an eight-point lead.
“A lot of tough decisions were made,” Prunty said. “And the guys stood with one another. So, again, that’s way too long-winded of an answer, but I hope you understand the commitment the team made to one another was really big.”
Hawks 129, Nets 127
Stat to know
3 – Sunday’s 129-127 victory marked Atlanta’s third buzzer-beating game-winner of the season.
“Loved our fight and so many contributions from everybody (Sunday). So, again, good team win, big shot obviously by Trae at the end, but a lot of people made a lot of plays.” – Prunty on the latest win
The Hawks host the Wizards at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at State Farm Arena.
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