The Hawks tried to win their second consecutive game after topping the Pacers on Saturday, but the visiting Grizzlies outmuscled Atlanta on Sunday night in a 123-119 victory.

Here are five observations:

1. The Hawks (37-38) had numerous chances down the stretch, but they couldn’t capitalize on their stops. Despite being down nine points, a layup by Clint Capela, a dunk from De’Andre Hunter and a clutch 3-pointer from Dejounte Murray brought Atlanta within one possession.

It forced Memphis (47-27) to take another timeout, and strong defense by the Hawks forced Desmond Bane to miss a 3. However, the Hawks came up empty on the other end. Grizzlies guard Ja Morant, who returned to the starting lineup for the first time since serving an eight-game suspension, turned the ball over, but the Hawks couldn’t capitalize.

Throughout the game, the Hawks tried attacking the basket with varying degrees of success. The Grizzlies also took advantage of some defensive lapses by Atlanta, making 53.9% of their field goals.

Hawks coach Quin Snyder said his team gave up too many opportunities from the outside down the stretch. Hawks guard Trae Young, who scored 28 points and had 10 assists, echoed Snyder’s sentiment.

“We were really trying to attack the basket, and especially guys (in the) starting lineup, really getting to the basket and trying to get fouls,” Young said. “We’re all just trying to create for each other. We probably got to shoot a little bit more 3s more open instead of just waiting for the closeout. But, I mean, we’ll get better at that.”

2. Prior to the game, Snyder mentioned that the most important thing the Hawks needed to do was get back when asked how the team would pick its poison defensively. But the Hawks gave up 24 fast-break points and allowed the Grizzlies to get wherever they wanted offensively.

In the second half, the Hawks made things a little more difficult for Memphis, particularly in the fourth quarter. Atlanta held the Grizzlies to 10 field goals late in the game.

Consistency has evaded the Hawks all season, and Snyder said his squad is continuing to look for it, especially on defense.

3. The Hawks stayed in Sunday’s game thanks to the efforts of their frontcourt, which attacked the offensive glass early. They helped get the Hawks 20 second-chance points in the first half, which allowed the team to head into the locker room trailing by five points.

Capela and Onyeka Okongwu combined for 10 of the Hawks’ 14 offensive rebounds. The two rank among the top 20 centers in the NBA in offensive rebounding, which has helped the Hawks climb the rankings in second-chance points.

Since the All-Star break, the Hawks lead the league in second-chance points, averaging 17.6 per game. It’s a huge jump for the Hawks, who ranked 17th in the NBA in second-chance points (13.2 per game).

“He’s got excellent hands, and he’s a great finisher,” Snyder said of Okongwu. “But ... he has impacted the game so much on the offensive glass. And, again, it’s one of the reasons we need to take those shots because he’s been tenacious rebounding.”

4. Morant came off the bench in his first two games after serving his suspension for posting a video in which he was shown waving a gun at a Denver-area strip club.

Ahead of the game, Morant’s position in the Grizzlies’ rotation raised questions about how the Hawks would adjust their rotation. Morant scored 27 points, had three rebounds and added six assists. He also gave Atlanta plenty of trouble in transition.

Plus, Morant had no trouble attacking bigger defenders, finishing layups despite pushback from them.

5. The Hawks had a chance to make up a little ground on the Eastern Conference’s seventh seed Sunday but failed to do so. Heading into the game, the Hawks sat 2 ½ games behind the Heat and three games behind the Nets.

On top of that, Atlanta could have created some cushion from the charging Raptors, who have pulled even with the Hawks for the No. 8 spot.

Grizzlies 123, Hawks 119

Stat to know

20 – The Hawks hung around in their matchup against the Grizzlies thanks in part to their 20 second-chance points off nine offensive rebounds in the first half.


“You can’t really look too much and too ... far ahead. All these seven games (that are left in the regular season), we just got to continue to play one game at a time.” – Young on getting to the seventh seed in the conference standings

Up next

The Hawks host the Cavaliers at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.