Hawks give interim head coach Nate McMillan a win over Heat

awks interim coach Nate McMillan, center, gestures as he talks to players during a timeout in the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Credit: Wilfredo Lee

caption arrowCaption
awks interim coach Nate McMillan, center, gestures as he talks to players during a timeout in the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Credit: Wilfredo Lee

Credit: Wilfredo Lee

The Hawks (15-20) surged in the fourth quarter to beat the Heat 94-80 in Miami Tuesday, one day after Lloyd Pierce was fired and Nate McMillan was promoted to interim head coach.

Next up, on the second night of a back-to-back Wednesday, the Hawks conclude the first half of the season with a game in Orlando.

Below are some takeaways from the win:

1. With so little time to make adjustments, McMillan said he wouldn’t be able to make many changes until the second half of the season, but was looking for the team to play a full 48 minutes. They did so in Tuesday’s win, evading the fourth-quarter lapses that have loomed over them this season. McMillan had coached the Hawks to a 2-1 record in mid-February when Pierce missed time for the birth of his second child. Pierce went 63-120 in his two-and-a-half seasons as Hawks head coach.

2. It wasn’t beautiful, but the Hawks got it done down the stretch, overcoming 23 turnovers. Although they trailed by three entering the fourth quarter, Trae Young drained three straight 3-pointers to give the Hawks a 10-point lead, 84-74, with 5:18 to play.

They held Miami without a field goal from the 7:28 mark until the 2:27 mark. This was a sign of progress from the Hawks, per McMillan: “What we talked about is, losing coach Pierce, we all had to do better, and that was the challenge to this team tonight. He took a hit because we didn’t do what we were supposed to be doing out there, and I thought tonight they did better. They were aggressive defensively, all the things we’ve been talking about all season long.”

Kevin Huerter added 16 points and five assists.

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3. Interestingly, John Collins didn’t play in the fourth quarter. He wasn’t injured, McMillan said, but it was a decision based on matchups as Miami went small.

Collins still finished with 17 points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes.

The Hawks ended up massively outscoring the Heat, 31-14, in the fourth.

“It wasn’t that he wasn’t playing well, it was just we had a rhythm, we were scoring, we were stopping and when they went small and put four guards on the floor, we made an adjustment and put (Solomon Hill) in the game to match up defensively,” McMillan said.

caption arrowCaption
Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins (center) looks for an opening past Miami Heat's Tyler Herro (from left), Kelly Olynyk, Precious Achiuwa and Goran Dragic during the first half Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in Miami. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

Credit: Wilfredo Lee

Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins (center) looks for an opening past Miami Heat's Tyler Herro (from left), Kelly Olynyk, Precious Achiuwa and Goran Dragic during the first half Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in Miami. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

Credit: Wilfredo Lee

caption arrowCaption
Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins (center) looks for an opening past Miami Heat's Tyler Herro (from left), Kelly Olynyk, Precious Achiuwa and Goran Dragic during the first half Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in Miami. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

Credit: Wilfredo Lee

Credit: Wilfredo Lee

4. For the first time since suffering an avulsion fracture in his right knee Jan. 9, Bogdan Bogdanovic played in a game.

Bogdanovic was on a minute restriction and took a little time to get going (understandable considering the amount of time he missed), finishing with five points, four assists and two rebounds in about 16 minutes.

The Hawks are happy to get his presence, shooting and shot creation back.

“It was great, honestly, finding a rhythm with the guys, chemistry, again,” Bogdanovic said. “Honestly, I missed playing. It was tough being out. But I’m happy that I’m healthy and I’m back.”

5. Eighty points is the fewest the Hawks have given up since limiting Golden State to 79 on Dec. 2, 2019. The last time the Hawks had held a team to 37 points or fewer in single half was Jan. 6, 2019, against the Heat.

Stat of the game

47-26 (the Hawks crushed the Heat on the boards, with Clint Capela leading the way with 17 rebounds)

Star of the game

Trae Young (led the Hawks in scoring with 18, with 13 of that coming in the fourth quarter; he added 10 assists for a double-double)

Quotable

“Obviously it’s a tough situation. But for me my main focus is on this team and how I can help this team moving forward, and helping us get to the playoffs. So that’s my main focus, everything else, it’s what it is, and my main focus is trying to help my team win.” (Young on coach Lloyd Pierce’s firing)

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