Hawks struggle with shot selection, defense in loss to Nets

BROOKLYN — The game got away from the Hawks (4-4) in the second half of a 117-108 loss in Brooklyn (5-3) Wednesday.

Next up, on the second half of a back-to-back, the Hawks will debut their new City Edition uniforms when they host the Jazz Thursday.

Below are some takeaways from the loss:

1. After two-and-a-half quarters of battling the Nets pretty well, the game started slipping away for the Hawks midway through the third quarter. Over the last 6:28 of the third, Brooklyn went on a 26-7 run, and the Hawks’ shot selection and turnovers made things harder on the defense. The Nets tallied 28 fast-break points, scoring 26 points off 14 total Hawks turnovers.

“We talked about shot selection and taking care of the ball, and that’s the first thing we have to do,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “Our transition defense starts with our offensive execution, where we take good shots with a balanced floor so we can rotate back. Taking quick shots and turning the ball over will lead, in this league, to easy baskets. And they punished us with our quick shots and our turnovers.”

2. Too many times, the Nets were able to break down the Hawks on the perimeter, get into the paint and kick out for easy 3-pointers. They ended up shooting 45.8% from 3-point range, making 22 of 38 attempts, moving the ball well with 34 assists — Joe Harris went 6-for-8 from beyond the arc, with 18 points, James Harden went 5-for-11 with 16 points (plus 11 assists) and Patty Mills went 4-for-7 with 14 points off the bench. Overall, Kevin Durant led the Nets in scoring with 32 points, to go with five assists and seven rebounds.

3. De’Andre Hunter recorded a season-high 26 points and tied a career-high with six made 3′s, going 6-for-6. Hunter had knee surgery last postseason and couldn’t play in the Eastern Conference semifinals or finals, and was shooting 33.3% from 3-point range entering Wednesday as he works back into a rhythm. Hunter’s game had taken a huge leap forward before injury derailed things last year, and his production in this game is a good sign for what’s to come.

4. Kevin Huerter, who had an ankle procedure after last season’s playoff run, has had a slow shooting start to the season, too, not doing any running until training camp and having to work his way back into game shape. He averaged 4.8 points in the Hawks’ first seven games, but had an encouraging shooting performance Wednesday, adding 16 points off the bench (7-for-9 field goals, 2-for-2 from 3-point range).

5. This game kicks off a tough schedule stretch for the Hawks, with Thursday’s home game vs. Utah, the top team in the West, followed by a four-game west coast road trip at Phoenix, Golden State, Utah and Denver, before returning home to face the defending champions, Milwaukee. They’ve got two back-to-backs in six days (the second half of one Wednesday vs. the Jazz, then facing the Warriors Monday and the Jazz again Tuesday). Although it’s still super early in the season, this is a chance for the Hawks to see where they stack up against stiff competition.

Stat of the game: 22 (the amount of 3-pointers the Nets made, as Brooklyn piled it on in the second half)

Star of the game: Durant (led the Nets in scoring and finished as a plus-15)

Quotable: “It’s going to be hard to beat any team when you’re giving up that many easy points.” (McMillan on the Hawks’ self-inflicted wounds)

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