Hawks forward De'Andre Hunter (12) shoots against the Orlando Magic during the first half of an exhibition game at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Wednesday, October 9, 2019. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal Constitution)
Photo: Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com
Photo: Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com

‘Baby steps’ taken on defense, but Hawks fall to Magic

The Hawks faded in the fourth quarter of their second preseason game, losing to the Orlando Magic 97-88 Wednesday at State Farm Arena, though they showed improvement defensively from their loss to the Pelicans Monday. Trae Young led the Hawks in scoring with 18 points. 

Atlanta will play its three remaining preseason games on the road, beginning in Miami on Monday at 7:30 p.m. Below are some takeaways from the loss: 

1. Defensively, the Hawks took some “baby steps,” in coach Lloyd Pierce’s words, after allowing the Pelicans 133 points. Atlanta held Orlando to 37.6 percent from the floor (29.4 percent from 3-point range) and showed better all-around effort on defense. The Hawks aim to hold teams below 25 points per quarter, which they achieved in the first (allowing 18) and third (allowing 24). DeAndre’ Bembry and Trae Young each had three steals. 

Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce (middle) reacts from the bench. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal Constitution)
Photo: Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com

2. Atlanta may have performed better defensively, but committing 27 turnovers prevented it from capitalizing too much (as did shooting just 33.8 percent from the floor, going up against a long Orlando team). After registering 29 turnovers Monday (with Young responsible for eight of those), the problem didn’t let up much Wednesday. The Hawks, who led the league in turnovers per game (17) last season, had 27 in the loss (with Young responsible for nine of those). Preseason games are, of course, opportunities to get weaknesses on film and work through them, and this definitely looks like it’s still a problem area for Atlanta. Some of those 27 turnovers are a credit to Orlando, but a healthy portion were self-inflicted (for example, the Hawks were called for travelling six times). 

3. Rookie De’Andre Hunter is looking the part so far, even on a 1-for-5 night from 3-point range. After a solid debut Monday, Hunter tallied 13 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists, flashing his strength and his ability to put the ball on the floor. Pierce: “Everybody says he’s a 3-and-D guy; I think he’s pretty good putting it on the floor and getting it to the rim. ... Strong moves to the basket.” 

4. John Collins had an uncharacteristically off night, going 0 for 8 from the field, finishing with 2 points (going 2 for 4 from the free-throw line) with 6 turnovers. Collins started out with a missed jump shot, followed it up with a turnover and never really settled in. He said postgame his struggles weren’t health-related (he was briefly listed as “probable” with “left knee tendon pain”), and said this was one of his tougher games as a professional -- fortunately it came in a preseason setting. 

5. Don’t read too much into starters or the exact breakdown of playing time at this point. Yes, rookie Cam Reddish got the start (he had a quiet night, with 4 points and 1 turnover, going 0 for 5 from 3-point range), with center Alex Len back after Damian Jones started Monday, but that doesn’t mean Reddish will stay there. The Hawks are still figuring out chemistry and what works best, and they still have several players out injured, including Kevin Huerter (left knee). Pierce said pregame: “Whatever you see, don’t buy too much into it. We’re still trying to figure out, especially from a health perspective, who’s going to be healthy Oct. 24.” 

Hawks guard Trae Young (11) dribbles against the Orlando Magic. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal Constitution)
Photo: Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com

By the numbers 

4 for 24 (what the Hawks starting lineup of Reddish, DeAndre’ Bembry, Collins and Len shot from the field, without Young’s 5 for 10).

Quotable 

“It’s embarrassing. I’ve been playing bad as far as taking care of the ball, and that’s something that I need to get better at, and it’s something I’m going to be better at. It’s preseason, but I don’t want to use that as a tool, just an excuse for me to turn the ball over.” -- Trae Young on his 17 turnovers through two preseason games

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