MINNEAPOLIS -- The Hawks pushed the Timberwolves to the final buzzer but fell 109-106 for their fifth consecutive loss Friday at the Target Center.

Here are five observations:

1. For the second straight game the Hawks closed out the game with their young players. The average age of the Hawks’ closing lineup was 26, while the Timberwolves rolled with a squad where the average age was 28.

The Hawks did swap out Trent Forrest for Garrison Mathews and for roughly three minutes, they made things tough for Minnesota. They pushed the lead to 100-98 off a jumper from rookie Kobe Bufkin that forced the Timberwolves to call a timeout.

In that span, Vit Krejci forced Anthony Edwards into some tough shots, while making some big jumpers on the other end.

The Hawks continue to give their young players valuable minutes since their seeding in the Eastern Conference has been locked up.

“Just how important execution is down the stretch,” Bufkin said. “I feel like we did that tonight, as well but just some shots didn’t fall. But it’s good. It’s good to experience it and learn how to execute.”

2. The Hawks’ inexperience caught up to them in the end and the Timberwolves’ experience helped them pull out their clutch win. Minnesota forced Krejci to miss a jumper from deep before forcing Bruno Fernando to turn the ball over out of bounds.

Then the Timberwolves swung the ball around the floor on the offensive end until they found Karl-Anthony Towns wide open for a 3 in the corner. Towns made his return to the lineup after missing 17 games with a meniscus injury.

Towns went 0-of-5 from 3 in the first three quarters but hit a crucial jumper that set the Timberwolves up to secure the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference after the Nuggets fell to the Spurs minutes earlier.

3. The Hawks took over in the second half of the third quarter, finishing it on a 20-4 run after they got open looks and made the stops. It came after the Hawks went 1-of-11 from deep in the first half but they made five shots from 3 in the third quarter alone.

They got a big hand from center Clint Capela, who got some momentum flowing.

Capela played the entire third quarter and pulled down seven rebounds in that span. With 4:49 to play in the third, Naz Reid tried to post up Capela and when he turned to create space, Capela blocked the shot.

Then Capela drew a charge on one end before hitting a skyhook over Rudy Gobert on the other.

“It feels good because whenever we get defensive stops ... it gives them momentum to feel more confidence offensively,” said Capela, who picked up his 38th double-double of the season. “So I took my chances, as I was feeling good. And it worked. I succeeded in that. So it felt pretty good. And this is something I want to hold on to.”

He had 13 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and one block.

4. One of those assists found Hawks guard Trae Young for a banked-in teardrop that gave the Hawks a five-point lead early in the game. In his second game back, Young continued to find his wind, increasing his minutes from 21 the game before to 27.

Young didn’t shy away from contact and used it to his advantage, including a 3-point play in the first quarter.

He scored 19 points on 50% shooting. He relished the Minnesota crowd’s reaction to a foul he drew off Mike Conley in the third and used it as fuel to hit 25-footer, then a 29-footer 30 seconds later to pull the Hawks within two points.

“I felt good,” Young said. “I mean, this is that time of year. We got to be playing up to another level. So I’m just trying to get my wind under me.”

5. The Hawks also saw the return of AJ Griffin for the first time since Jan. 30, where he played the final three minutes of their win over the Lakers.

Griffin played a season-high 18 minutes and showed some strong defense, particularly in the second half.

Stat to know

160 -- Trae Young has five-plus assists in 160 straight games, the third-longest streak in NBA history.


“We were small. So it becomes even more important for Clint to anchor us like that.” - Hawks coach Quin Snyder on Clint Capela’s game.

Up next

The Hawks wrap their regular season on Sunday in Indiana against the Pacers.