Hawks blow 12-point lead in loss to Suns

PHOENIX — The Suns stormed back in the fourth quarter to edge the Hawks, 121-117, in Phoenix Saturday.

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Next up, the Hawks will continue their West Coast road trip in Golden State Monday.

Below are some takeaways from the loss:

1. After getting clobbered in back-to-back second halves against Brooklyn and Utah, the Hawks seemed to be setting themselves up for a win before collapsing in the fourth quarter. Trae Young took over in the third with 14 points and six assists, helping the Hawks win the period 40-27 and take a 98-86 lead entering the fourth. That’s the most points they’ve scored in a single quarter this season. Hawks coach Nate McMillan had been emphasizing conditioning and playing for a full 48 minutes, but the Hawks took poor shots and made too many mistakes down the stretch to come away victorious.

“We just lost our poise in the fourth quarter… I thought we started to rush,” McMillan said. “We got caught up in the officiating again. That became a distraction, so you’re basically not clear about what you need to do out there. It was just poor execution I think on both ends of the floor, that fourth quarter. These are things we know we have to improve on, finishing games.”

2. In the fourth quarter, the Suns came charging back and the Hawks had no answer, on either end of the floor, outscored 35-19 in the final period. They went 0-for-7 from 3-point range while the Suns barely missed, going 12-for-18 from the field (66.7%). A triple and jumper by Devin Booker (led the Suns with 38 points) tied it at 113 with 2:07 left, and a dunk by Frank Kaminsky (16 points, six rebounds, four assists) put the Suns ahead, 116-115, with 45 seconds to go. Young missed a 3-pointer and Jae Crowder made a layup on the other end, so the Hawks were facing a 118-115 hole with 19.3 seconds left. Bogdan Bogdanovic (18 points, seven rebounds) air-balled a 3-point attempt with 14.9 seconds to go and the Suns were able to pull away for the win in the final seconds.

3. Dating back to the loss to Washington on Oct. 28, the Hawks have now lost five of their last six games. This loss dipped them two games below .500, at 4-6. They don’t get much of a reprieve, as their tough West Coast road trips continues in Golden State Monday, in Utah Tuesday on a back-to-back and in Denver Friday.

4. Yet again, McMillan said he thought the Hawks got distracted by officiating in the second half, which could have contributed to them losing focus down the stretch. Young received a technical foul with the Hawks up 113-111 at the 3:02 mark of the fourth quarter, though Booker missed the free throw. The Suns went 7-for-10 from the line in the fourth, to the Hawks’ 3-for-3.

“We’re not winning that,” McMillan said. “You’ve got to leave the officials alone. We’ve proven that our conversations with (officials), it hasn’t changed anything, it doesn’t change any calls. And we continue to allow that to be a distraction where we stop playing or we foul purposely or we get technicals, and we’ve got to grow up, we’ve got to mature from that. That’s the ‘clear’ part. Basically, I call it ‘drunk on emotions.’ Emotionally drunk out there. Just calm down. We had a lead. Playing good basketball, and the fourth quarter, the fourth quarter is always going to come down to that. Being calm, clear and connected, whether you’re ahead or behind, and execution in the fourth quarter.”

Suns 121, Hawks 117

5. Young finished with a team-high 31 points (10-for-23 field goals, 4-for-9 from 3, 7-for-8 FT) and recorded a season-high four 3-pointers after struggling shooting from 3-point range to start the season (25.5%, or 12-47, through their first nine games). He added 13 assists for a double-double, though he did have six turnovers. John Collins had a double-double of his own, with 26 points and 10 rebounds, but was held to five points in the fourth quarter. Young was held to four points in the fourth.

Stat of the game: 35-19 (what the Suns outscored the Hawks by in the fourth quarter to complete the comeback)

Star of the game: Booker (led the Suns in scoring with 38 points)

Quotable: “(De’Andre Hunter) was getting hounded by (Chris Paul) on the other end in the post and I just asked him, I said ‘You didn’t see that?’ I said ‘You didn’t see that?’ And he just gave me a tech. So I guess it’s personal with some of these guys.” (Young on his technical foul in the fourth quarter, with the Hawks leading by two)