Without Trae Young, the Hawks (8-32) fell to the Nets 108-86 Sunday in Brooklyn, and simply couldn’t keep up in Kyrie Irving’s return.
Below are some takeaways from the loss:
1. Rookie Cam Reddish has been a consistent defender this season, but hasn’t been able to find a rhythm on offense. Sunday’s loss was a different tune, as Reddish produced for the Hawks on both ends of the floor, tallying a career-high five steals and a team-high 20 points on a night when not much else went right for the visitors. Reddish had some great flashes with the ball, including a slick step-back 3-pointer in the second quarter.
“I feel like I was engaged, just locked in,” Reddish said. “That was just the result. Just trying to be energetic all over the floor.”
2. Without Trae Young, who was ruled out with left hamstring pain, the Hawks struggled to get much of anything going on offense, shooting a season low 33% from the field. With his top-tier scoring (28.9 points per game) and playmaking (8.4 assists per game) abilities, Young is a crucial part of the Hawks’ offense, which looked listless without him. Two-way player and backup point guard Brandon Goodwin started in Young’s stead but couldn’t get much going, tallying eight points, four rebounds and three assists. (Kevin Huerter led with five assists, to go with eight points and five rebounds). The Hawks also struggled to get to the line (going 10-for-11 to the Nets’ 16-for-29), which is a strength of Young’s, and failed to capitalize off the Nets’ 24 turnovers. Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said their problems on offense stemmed from a bad shooting night, not trying to compensate for Young’s absence: “I thought the guys weren’t really trying to make up for anything. We had an off night as a group. It was the wrong time to have an off night as a group, and obviously you’d love to have Trae out there because he’s a shot maker but I take nothing away from the guys and the shots they had. They just had an off night shooting it.”
3. With an especially slow start, it didn’t take long for this one to get out of hand. The Hawks gave up 37 points in the first quarter and were held to 16 points themselves, shooting 25% from the field to the Nets’ 70% during that span. That’s the most the Nets have scored in a first quarter this season (the 22-point margin of victory also is the Nets’ widest of the season). Digging themselves into a hole set them up for failure, and as the Nets kept scoring, the Hawks couldn’t really chip away at the deficit. “They came out with a bigger sense of urgency than we did and I felt like they just played harder, (going) after more 50-50 balls than we did, crashed the glass, made extra plays, made the smart plays, and I think we were just behind tonight, a step behind,” said John Collins, who had a quiet night with eight points and five rebounds.
4. Unfortunately for the Hawks, Sunday marked Kyrie Irving’s first game back since Nov. 14, and he got back to his old self pretty quickly after battling a right shoulder impingement. Making 10 of 11 shot attempts, Irving led the Nets with 21 points, and his .909 field goal percentage was a career-high. “Not a lot of fun in that one,” coach Pierce said. “Brooklyn was good. They fed off of Kyrie (Irving) being back and had some great momentum in that first quarter. We were stuck in the sand. We were stuck in cement, trying to move and just late to everything with everybody.”
5. Vince Carter, who played for the New Jersey Nets from 2004-09, received a warm welcome in Brooklyn: chants from fans wanting him in the game; a standing ovation when he checked out; and cries of “Retire 15,” his jersey number, coming from the stands. “It’s always great to receive a standing ovation coming into or checking out of the game,” Carter said. “It’s always extra special when it’s a team I’ve played for before.”
By the Numbers
62 (the amount of rebounds the Nets tallied, compared to the Hawks’ 33)
“I feel like we struggled to shoot a little bit early in the game. That obviously hurt. The energy and the effort wasn’t where it should have been, to start. But I think we just had a bad shooting night from the very beginning.” (Cam Reddish on the Hawks’ offense)
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.