PORTLAND, Ore. — The Hawks kicked off their road trip out West against the Trail Blazers. Atlanta fell 129-125 on Monday night.
Here are five observations:
1. One game after giving up 19 3-pointers to the Clippers on Saturday, the Hawks gave up another 19 to the Blazers.
With 3:20 left in the game, the Hawks (25-26) pulled to within 119-114 and forced four consecutive stops before guard Dejounte Murray drew contact on his next three trips to the basket. He made all seven of his free throws before Anfernee Simons hit his fifth 3-pointer to put the Blazers up 124-121.
The Hawks had a chance to tie the game when Bogdan Bogdanovic drew a foul with 27.8 seconds left. But the Hawks’ struggles from the free-throw line seemed to catch up with him as well, and Bogdanovic missed two of his three attempts.
“I thought they made plays most of the night, when we made runs you, they made shots, or got to the basket,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “We just didn’t, couldn’t get enough stops. We (were) able to eventually fight our way back into the game. But, we ended up allowing them to score or get to the basket or ... again, hey, another team knocks down 19 3s on us, that’s part of trying to mix up the defense to control a hot hand, and they made their shots when they needed to.”
Simons and Damian Lillard combined for 10-of-20 from distance. Jerami Grant notched 4-of-9 attempts from 3. Jusuf Nurkic and Nassir Little both made two, and Shaedon Sharpe scored one.
2. The Hawks faced one of the NBA’s top-10 offenses, led by Lillard, without starting guard Trae Young. Young missed Monday’s game with right ankle soreness, so Atlanta needed a big night from its remaining backcourt.
Murray delivered, scoring a career-high 40 points and doling out seven assists. Murray made plenty of tough shots throughout the game, including a layup off a steal while falling out of bounds.
Murray made 13-of-25 shots from the floor and 5-of-8 3-point attempts. Per Elias Sports Bureau, Murray is the first Hawks player to record a stat line of 40 points, with at least five rebounds, five assists and zero turnovers since 1977-78 when the NBA began tracking individual turnovers.
The Hawks received plenty of help from Bogdanovic, who created plenty of opportunities for his teammates. Bogdanovic’s season-high seven assists created 16 points for the Hawks and helped fill the void created by Young’s absence.
They needed all of that as Lillard scored 42 points, including 17-of-17 from the free-throw line.
3. In the first half, Hawks center Clint Capela gave the team a huge boost as its deficit hovered around seven points for much of the second quarter. He pulled down eight rebounds in the first half, including seven offensive boards.
Capela’s hustle on the boards in the first half sparked the team for the rest of the game. The Hawks had 21 second-chance points, and they needed every one of them with the Blazers hitting more than 50% of their shots from the floor.
“We gotta fight,” McMillan said. “It’s really that time of the season, every game is going to be a scrap and it’s going to be a fight, and it’s going to be physical. And we need to expect that from here on out. Teams are looking at the standings, and everybody is in shape and playing good basketball, and you (are) playing to get yourself into or trying to get into the playoffs.”
4. The bench, led by Bogdanovic, outscored the Blazers’ second unit 46-23. Injuries have often hampered the flow of the Hawks’ bench because the team needs to elevate a key player to the starting lineup to fill in for an absent starter.
Despite the team missing Young, Bogdanovic, AJ Griffin and Onyeka Okongwu helped lead the bench Monday night. That unit helped keep the Hawks in the game early after the starters got off to a slow start.
5. The Hawks needed to kick off this recent stretch of games on the right foot. But with the loss, their position in the Eastern Conference standings continues to be shaky. The Hawks fell below .500, with the Wizards and Bulls within striking distance.
The Wizards are one-half game behind the Hawks, while the Bulls are one game back.
Trail Blazers 129, Hawks 125
Stat to know
17 – The Hawks finished with 17 offensive rebounds. Capela had 10.
“For sure, all of us, starting with me on down. We got to communicate. We got to, you know, if teams (make) 3s early like that, then you got to adjust with the game. And I feel like they were just getting, you know, obviously Dame got a couple, (it’s) what he does, but, you know, the rest of them guys, just, you know, walking into 3s.” – Murray on how the Hawks can communicate better to avoid giving up 19 3s.
The Hawks head to Phoenix to take on the Suns on Wednesday night.
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