The Hawks pushed through losing Trae Young to down the Pacers 143-130 Saturday at State Farm Arena.
Here are five observations:
1. The Hawks scored a season-high 143 points with eight different players scoring in double figures. They rallied in the third quarter following the ejection of Young, who aggressively threw a ball toward an official. Young had 14 points, three rebounds and five assists before he left with 7:25 remaining in the quarter.
The Pacers had just tied the game, but the Hawks’ second unit held firm, getting out to a six-point lead. Then the Hawks hit back-to-back 3-pointers to end the quarter.
That carried into the fourth and the Hawks (37-37) extended the lead into double-figures and the Pacers (33-42) couldn’t keep up.
“I just wanted to say, it’s the only thing I need to say, is our bench is unbelievable,” Hawks coach Quin Snyder said. “Garrison (Mathews), Aaron (Holiday), ‘O’ (Onyeka Okongwu), Saddiq (Bey), AJ (Griffin), those guys were terrific. And I think they just raised the level of competitiveness of the game and everybody fought.”
2. Snyder said that he and Young had a conversation following the game about what led to his ejection. Though the Hawks finished the night strongly, Snyder highlighted Young’s importance. He said Young took responsibility for his actions.
“Frustration can’t get to that point,” Snyder said. “When it does, that can’t be a response. And it’s something, I know that, he’s not the only one that’s lost his cool. But certainly, we’re not talking about everybody else, right now. We’re talking about Trae and he’s too good a player, we need him.”
Young was not made available to the media after the game.
3. Mathews, in particular, gave the Hawks a huge lift on both ends of the floor. The 26-year-old has played in the Hawks’ rotation in the last three games as the team has missed some players in Dejounte Murray, as well as De’Andre Hunter.
Mathews ended the night with 14 points, one assist and one steal after trying to find a place after the team acquired him from the Rockets. The Hawks have plenty of depth and Snyder has mostly kept the rotation to nine players.
“It’s hard,” Mathews said. “This year has been a down year for me, I felt like I established myself as a player last year. And then this year has been tough.”
Despite that, Mathews gave the Hawks everything he could, including 4-of-5 shooting from 3. He also had a layup in transition after a steal.
4. The Hawks allowed the Pacers to stay within distance in the second quarter.
With Pacers forward Jordan Nwora scoring 25 of his 33 in the quarter, the Hawks still managed to take a two-point lead into the locker room at halftime. But the Hawks locked down on the defensive end and held Nwora to just eight points in the second half.
Snyder has implored the team to get back in transition and make sure that it challenges its opponents on every shot attempt. The Hawks did, limiting the Pacers on fast breaks in the second half.
“I thought the third quarter and our starters as well, they started the quarter that way, and then our bench continued, but I was glad to see our guys respond,” Snyder said. “Because, it’s not just urgency, it’s communication. And sometimes, you have to feel urgent in order to communicate, and we got to both those things, and then when you’re not doing that, and a team doesn’t feel you, it’s amazing how many shots they hit.”
5. The Hawks are 9-3 on the first night of a back-to-back and 2-9 on the second. They head into Sunday’s matchup against the Grizzlies with some momentum after a tough loss to the Timberwolves on Wednesday night.
The Hawks are 2 1/2 games behind the Heat for seventh place in the East.
Stat to know
143 -- The Hawks scored 143 points on .552 field-goal percentage (53-of-96).
“It’s important, you need that toughness. Obviously (his) shooting is a bonus but you need that toughness. He’s not afraid to garner the defense. He wants challenges.” - Dejounte Murray on Garrison Mathews.
The Hawks return to action on Sunday when they host the Grizzlies at State Farm Arena.