Hawks close out tight contest vs. Clippers

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) shoots a 3-point basket over Los Angeles Clippers forward Nicolas Batum (33) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 11, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr.)

Credit: AP

Combined ShapeCaption
Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) shoots a 3-point basket over Los Angeles Clippers forward Nicolas Batum (33) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 11, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr.)

Credit: AP

The Hawks (32-34) buckled down late and got a close win, 112-106, vs. the short-handed Clippers (35-34) Friday at State Farm Arena.

Next up, the Hawks host the Pacers Sunday.

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Below are some takeaways from the win:

1. After going 0-2 on their last road trip in Detroit and Milwaukee and hovering around the No. 10 spot in the Eastern Conference standings for quite some time now, Atlanta sorely needed to bounce back. The Hawks did so with Friday’s win, preventing a three-game slide, with their schedule lightening up considerably (in terms of difficulty) the rest of the way.

2. The Hawks have often struggled to finish games this season, but executed well as this game went down to the wire, with Trae Young (27 points, 11 assists, five rebounds, plus-8) taking advantage of the way the Clippers tried to trap him (the Hawks overall had 28 assists to the Clippers’ 22). Up by five entering the fourth quarter, Onyeka Okongwu (six points, nine rebounds) had a killer dunk on Ivaca Zubac (24 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, two blocks) and made the free throw afterward to take a seven-point lead at 6:54 and Kevin Huerter (16 points, eight rebounds, two assists) added two high-difficulty 3-pointers to make it 10, 106-96, with 3:49 left. It eventually got down to a two-point game, but out of a timeout Young found De’Andre Hunter (12 points, two rebounds) and Reggie Jackson (23 points, five assists, five rebounds, five turnovers) missed a 3-pointer on the other end.

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Atlanta Hawks forward Onyeka Okongwu (17) dunks over Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 11, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr.)

Credit: AP

Atlanta Hawks forward Onyeka Okongwu (17) dunks over Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 11, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr.)

Credit: AP

Combined ShapeCaption
Atlanta Hawks forward Onyeka Okongwu (17) dunks over Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 11, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr.)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

“We just slowed down and figured out what we wanted to do. ... They were doing a lot of trapping, so I was able to really find Clint (Capela) or find somebody else and they were making the right play,” Young said. “They were doing a lot of trapping in the fourth quarter and it left a lot of guys open for shots and also driving lanes.”

3. This was a good finishing game from Capela, who had a double-double with 14 points (7-for-9 field goals) and a team-high 11 rebounds, adding two assists and two blocks. Capela’s rebounding efforts were key, pulling down five offensive rebounds (Okongwu added six offensive rebounds), and overall the Hawks won the boards 53-41, with 15 offensive rebounds to the Clippers’ six.

4. The Hawks had a completely clean injury report entering this game (the Clippers have numerous injuries, including to Paul George and Kawhi Leonard), though John Collins (nine points, three rebounds, one assist, one block) continues to not look fully like himself playing through a right foot strain, and also had some fingers on his right hand taped Friday. Collins has told the AJC he’s still experiencing some pain in the foot. He did not play in the fourth quarter.

“I’m not going to tell you everything,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said when asked about Collins’ status. “I just respect him for his effort and he does have some things that are going on that he’s trying to play through. But he suited up and gave us his best effort.”

5. Backup guard Delon Wright played five minutes Friday after playing eight minutes in Wednesday’s loss in Milwaukee. McMillan said he is shortening the rotation down to nine guys as opposed to 10, which can be difficult to balance as everyone’s minutes get squeezed, with Lou Williams, Danilo Gallinari, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Okongwu the main bench unit.

“It’s nothing he has done,” McMillan said of Wright. “He’s been playing well for us. But it’s really difficult to play a 10-man rotation, because everybody gets squeezed, including Delon. ... As I told Delon, just be ready, and tonight he was ready, I ended up putting him in the second half as (Hunter) got into some foul trouble. He stepped in and gave us a really good five minutes in that second half.”

Hawks 112, Clippers 106

Stat of the game: Six (the amount of Hawks who finished in double-digit scoring: Young with 27, Huerter with 16, Capela with 14, Gallinari with 13, Hunter with 12 and Bogdanovic with 11)

Star of the game: Young (led the Hawks with 27 points and 11 assists, plus five rebounds)

Quotable: “That’s important for us, especially coming down the stretch, we’ve got to figure out how to close games better and we’ve done it a couple times, we’ve done it through some stretches this year, but we’ve got to consistently do it.” (Young on the Hawks keeping their composure and closing out a close game)