Trae Young leads Hawks to strong opening night win vs. Bulls

Hawks' John Collins (right) battles for a rebound against Chicago's Zach Lavine during the first half of the season opener against the Bulls Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020, in Chicago. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

Credit: AP

Combined ShapeCaption
Hawks' John Collins (right) battles for a rebound against Chicago's Zach Lavine during the first half of the season opener against the Bulls Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020, in Chicago. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

Credit: AP

Playing their first NBA game since March 11, the Hawks’ offense was on fire in their season-opening 124-104 win over the Bulls Wednesday in Chicago.

Next up, the Hawks play at 5 p.m. Dec. 26 in Memphis, Tenn.

Below are some takeaways from the win:

1. The Hawks dominated offensively. In the first quarter, they posted 42 points on 66.7% shooting (16-for-24 FG) to lead by 13. That pace didn’t slow in the second with 41 points, and the halftime total of 83 points is the most scored in the first half of any Hawks game. They led, 83-59, at halftime, and hit the 100-point mark just after passing the halfway point in the third quarter (overall, they shot 53.8% from the field). Basically, nothing the Bulls did on defense remotely slowed down the Hawks, who were down a few players but could still roll out some skilled offensive lineups (they started Trae Young, Cam Reddish, De’Andre Hunter, John Collins and Danilo Gallinari). It’s true the Bulls aren’t expected to be a good team, but this is still a strong start for the Hawks, who lost to the Bulls three times last year, by an average of 29.6 points. Defensively, the Hawks held the Bulls to 20 points in the third quarter, which allowed them to stretch their lead to 40 before pulling starters later on in the fourth.

2. After a slow preseason, Trae Young looked back to his old self on offense, and looked more active on defense, getting into passing lanes. He scored 27 points in the first half alone, and finished with 37 points, seven assists and six rebounds in about 26 minutes. He only needed 12 shots to get there, and only missed two from the field (10-for-12), going 12-for-14 from the line and 5-for-6 from 3-point range. After the game, Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said this was the most fun he’d seen Young have on the court. “It was really fun,” Young added. “It was fun being able to play with a lot of the new guys, and just being able to go out there and put on a show in the first game, it was really good. Not every night’s obviously going to be like this, but it’s really good to have an opening game like this and continuing to get better each and every day is our mindset. Not just satisfied with winning this first game.”

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Hawks' Cam Reddish (left) shoots against the Bulls' Daniel Gafford during the second half of the season opener Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020, in Chicago. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

Credit: AP

Hawks' Cam Reddish (left) shoots against the Bulls' Daniel Gafford during the second half of the season opener Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020, in Chicago. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

Credit: AP

Combined ShapeCaption
Hawks' Cam Reddish (left) shoots against the Bulls' Daniel Gafford during the second half of the season opener Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020, in Chicago. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

3. Seven players finished in double-digits, so Atlanta had a balanced scoring attack. Young led the way with 37, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Cam Reddish added 15 points each, John Collins added 14, Danilo Gallinari 13 and Kevin Huerter and De’Andre Hunter each added 11. Collins pointed to the Hawks sharing the ball (24 assists) as a reason for their success: “When you see a guy that has it going, you continue to go to that guy, and not only that, everybody did their job, guys got to corners, I did my job running the floor, guys were unselfish moving the ball, and I feel like that creates the environment where everybody knows that when they do their job, they’ll be rewarded, and guys just want to play hard and win.”

4. As the worst 3-point shooting team in the league last season (33.3%), starting out the season shooting 40% from 3-point range (14-for-35) will do. Young led the way with five 3′s, Bogdanovic added three and Huerter added two.

5. The Hawks added significant depth this offseason. That’s coming in handy from the get-go. In their season opener, they were without Clint Capela (left Achilles soreness), who had provided a rebounding presence and acted as a defensive backstop and communicator throughout the preseason. Per Pierce, Capela was just sore (this is a different issue than the nagging right heel injury that prevented him from making his debut last season). Even without Capela, the Hawks out-rebounded the Bulls, 46-37. Kris Dunn (cartilage disruption, right knee), Onyeka Okongwu (inflammation, sesamoid bone, left foot), Tony Snell (inflammation, cuboid bone, right foot) and Rajon Rondo (health and safety protocols) were also out. Rondo’s absence is related to attending a family member’s funeral, and he has not tested positive for COVID-19.

Stat of the game

42 - the most scored in the first quarter of a season opener in Hawks’ franchise history

Star of the game

Young - paved the way for the Hawks’ offense with 37 points

Quotable

“Ice came to play today.” - Collins on Young, or “Ice Trae”