The Hawks (4-13) started off strong but were overtaken by the Timberwolves (9-8) in a 125-113 loss Monday at State Farm Arena.
Below are some takeaways from the loss:
1. This was the second game in a row where the Hawks were clicking in the first half, but fell behind in crunch time and came away with a loss. The Hawks shot 53.5% from the field in the first half (adding 16 assists, finishing with 26 total) and led 64-54 at halftime.
But they gave up the lead when they had three turnovers in the final three minutes of the third quarter, and the Timberwolves went on an 8-3 run to carry a 93-90 lead into the fourth. Center Karl-Anthony Towns scored 15 of his 28 points in the third, which helped the Timberwolves swing the game, and the Hawks faded in the fourth quarter, giving up four 3’s and looking out of sync defensively.
“You look at championship teams, they just don’t have close games, and when you have a lead, you just separate,” Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. “You don’t keep it close game. When we have a lead, we don’t know how to separate, and that’s a challenge.”
2. The Hawks have now lost seven in a row and 13 of 15 after starting the season out 2-0. They’ve endured a tough schedule so far, featuring a particularly brutal west coast road trip, but have now played back-to-back games that could have been wins, had a few sequences gone differently.
Finding a way to get over the hump will help the team in more ways than one, per Pierce: “I think once we get a win, just to get a win, a lot of things will be solved, the confidence will be even higher, the understanding of what it took to win that game will carry over to the next.”
3. Trae Young did his thing, leading the Hawks with 37 points (going 11 for 28 from the field, 5 for 11 from 3-point range and 10 for 11 from the line), while adding nine assists and six rebounds. It was Young’s eighth 30-point game of the season.
4. Rookie Bruno Fernando’s comfort level seems to be increasing on offense (defensively, he often had the tough challenge of matching up with Towns). He finished with a career-high 13 points, to go with four rebounds, one steal, one block and one assist in a little over 17 minutes, coming off the bench.
“It’s growing every day,” Fernando said of his confidence. “I’m just always trying to come in and compete every night, play hard. I understand my role on this team and I’m not trying to do anything outside of what I’m supposed to do. So I just come in and try to compete every night and play hard and bring energy off the bench.”
5. After missing two games with a left wrist sprain (which he sustained in the loss to Milwaukee Nov. 20, when he registered a career-high 17 points after struggling offensively for most of the season), rookie Cam Reddish returned to the lineup. He started the game and had no minute restrictions, but struggled shooting the ball, going 2 for 10 from the field, finishing with seven points, three assists and three rebounds. In Reddish’s absence, DeAndre’ Bembry had started, though Pierce has said he prefers to bring Bembry off the bench.
By the Numbers
39 (the amount of points the Timberwolves scored in the third quarter to take the lead and keep it)
“Playing a full 48 minutes. We’ve been playing 24, we’ve been playing three quarters and then just won’t finish it. But also just finishing shot clocks.” (Young on what the Hawks need to do to get a win)
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