MINNEAPOLIS -- The Hawks looked to pick up a second straight win Wednesday night. But they ultimately fell to the Timberwolves 125-124.
Here are five observations.
1. Throughout the second half, the Hawks had to fight and play physically but also fight through calls they felt did not go their way. They did, with coach Quin Snyder praising the team’s competitiveness throughout the game.
Despite the Hawks taking an 11-point lead with just over eight minutes left in the game, the Timberwolves fought back. They went on an 8-2 run, sparked by three free throws from Mike Conley, and cut the lead to 111-108 with 6:14 remaining.
The Hawks though, continued to fight and kept the game within one point down the stretch. They challenged a foul call on John Collins after video showed Karl-Anthony Towns also making contact with Collins. Officials deemed that the contact from Towns was marginal contact, while Collins delivered illegal contact.
It sent Towns to the line for two free throws, which he hit. They ended up sealing the game.
“It’s a tough game to lose,” Snyder said. “I just I thought we really competed throughout the whole game. And I was thinking about this and that and the other shot here, foul here, a call here, a missed shot. And it just kept coming back to the same thing that we just compete. And over time that’s the most important thing for a team to do.”
2. The Hawks put up some stout defense in the third quarter. They ramped up the physicality to match the Timberwolves. The Hawks also had to fight through some frustrations with the officials but they held firm and carried a three-point lead into the fourth quarter.
The Hawks forced the Timberwolves to rush some shots in the third, holding them to 10-of-21 (47.6%) shooting from the floor. On top of that, they forced them off their spots, resulting in the Timberwolves making just one of their six 3-point attempts.
3. Despite missing Dejounte Murray (non-COVID illness) for a second straight game, the Hawks got a huge lift from their second unit. Snyder praised the performance of Aaron Holiday for navigating the Hawks’ bench in their stints.
Holiday’s seven assists, plus his presence on the defensive end, helped the Hawks get out to a 109-98 lead with 8:04 left in the game. One of Holiday’s three steals resulted in the wide-open 3-pointer for Saddiq Bey, which forced the Timberwolves to call a timeout.
“I thought Aaron was terrific, just his moxy and his competitiveness,” Snyder said. “I think, we talked about that being not a conditional thing, it’s got to be all the time. I thought we approached that.”
4. With the Timberwolves boasting plenty of size in the front court, the Hawks looked to match. The Hawks did their best to slow Rudy Gobert, Towns, Naz Reid and the rest of the Timberwolves’ big men.
When the Hawks faced the Timberwolves last Monday, they gave up a season-high 82 points in the paint. But one week later, the Hawks did a better job of sealing off the paint and forcing the Timberwolves to take shots outside or from mid-range.
The Hawks gave up 62 points inside, but the Timberwolves struck from 3 early, as well as making up some of the difference at the line.
5. The Hawks tried to slow the return of Towns, who played for the first time after an extended absence with a right calf strain. He returned to the Timberwolves rotation for the first time in 52 games and scored 22 points.
When the Hawks turned up their intensity on the defensive end, they found a way to temporarily slow Towns. But his two clutch free throws ended up sealing the game for the Timberwolves.
Timberwolves 125, Hawks 124
Stat to know
8 -- Onyeka Okongwu of the Hawks extended his block streak to eight straight games, the second-longest streak of his career and the third-longest active streak in the NBA.
“We came out with a faster start and just played a lot better. I think a few plays here and there and obviously I missed two free throws, could have won us the game. But at the end of the day, we gotta learn from it and be better.” -- Trae Young, who had 29 points and eight assists.
The Hawks return to State Farm Arena to host the Pacers on Saturday, then the Grizzlies on Sunday for a home-and-home back-to-back.
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