Hawks lose to Spurs despite boost from bench in fourth quarter

Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins (20) is separated from San Antonio Spurs forward DeMar DeRozan (10) by Hawks guard Kevin Huerter as Spurs forward Keldon Johnson (3) and guard Dejounte Murray (5) come to DeRozan's defense during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)
Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins (20) is separated from San Antonio Spurs forward DeMar DeRozan (10) by Hawks guard Kevin Huerter as Spurs forward Keldon Johnson (3) and guard Dejounte Murray (5) come to DeRozan's defense during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Hawks starters were pulled midway through the third quarter of the 125-114 loss to the Spurs Friday at State Farm Arena, with the deficit reaching 42 early in the fourth quarter before the bench made it more competitive.

Next up, on the second night of a back-to-back, the Hawks will face the Pacers Saturday at State Farm Arena.

Below are some takeaways from the loss:

1. In a poor defensive performance, the Hawks gave up 77 points in the first half and were outscored 41-19 in the second quarter alone. The deficit reached 30 in the second quarter and the Spurs hit the 100-point mark with 5:43 to play in the third quarter. Trailing by 39, the Hawks subbed out four of their five starters in Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, John Collins and Clint Capela, and none of the starting lineup (which includes Cam Reddish) played in the fourth. Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce called out that lineup after the loss: “We need our starters to find what we had for three quarters in (Wednesday’s loss to Dallas) and lost in the fourth quarter defensively, and what carried over tonight.” Reddish, Collins and Huerter combined for 20 points.

2. After a 29-point first quarter, the Hawks were a mess in the second and third quarters, trailing by 38 going into the fourth. However, reserves Skylar Mays, Bruno Fernando, Brandon Goodwin, Onyeka Okongwu and Nathan Knight played well against the Spurs bench, and turned what was once a 42-point deficit into an 11-point loss. Overall, the Hawks outscored the Spurs 42-15 in the fourth quarter, but they still lost by double-digits because of how out-of-hand the game had gotten. Mays finished with 20 points in 17 minutes and made the most of his playing time. “Our starters weren’t very good,” Pierce said. “They weren’t good at all. ... And our second unit did a great job of making the night somewhat decent. It’s good to see Skylar, who hasn’t played NBA basketball, do what he did tonight.”

3. At 11-14, the Hawks are a season-low three games under .500, and face a tough schedule ahead, with three games against Boston and one against Denver upcoming. Their first challenge, though, will be to try and get their first win of the season on the second night of a back-to-back, this time against the Pacers. The Hawks are 0-4 on the second night of back-to-backs so far. “The guys that started for us, and have played heavy minutes, didn’t play heavy minutes tonight,” Pierce said. “So they’re well-rested. They should be ready to go tomorrow. They understand, we dropped one. We laid an egg defensively, with our effort and our energy. That’s my job, is to put them in position with the game plan, to have the right guys on the floor. I thought we had the right guys and they didn’t deliver tonight. So we come back tomorrow and we try and find a way to deliver.”

4. The Spurs entered the game making the fourth-fewest 3-pointers per game in the league, 10.8 makes on 29.9 attempts at a 36% clip. They went 9-for-14 from 3 (64.3%) in the first half, shooting 62.2% from the floor (28-45), to lead by 29 and essentially put the game out of reach early. DeMar DeRozan had 23 points in 26 minutes and seven Spurs scored in double-figures.

5. Young led the Hawks in scoring with 25 points (8-for-15 on field goals, 2-for-6 from 3, 7-for-8 on free throws), but most of that was concentrated earlier in the game, with 17 of those points coming in the first quarter.

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) drives against San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills (8) during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)
Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) drives against San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills (8) during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Stat of the game

5:43 (the point in the third quarter when the Hawks pulled their starters, down 39)

Star of the game

DeRozan (led the Spurs in scoring with 23, adding eight assists and six rebounds)

Quotable

“I’d be a little more happy if we were able to win today, but I hope my parents were watching. I’m pretty sure they were.” (Mays, a rookie, on his career-high 20-point performance)

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