“There’s no greater stat you want to have than good ball movement. I thought Vince made the most unselfish play of the night. He had a wide-open corner three, and he throws it to the rim and we get a dunk. That’s what we want, for our guys to feel empowered by the ball movement,” Pierce said.
The Hawks recorded 35 assists compared to just 12 turnovers, a ratio Pierce described as “special.” Atlanta is 11-3 when recording at least 30 assists.
Young finished with 22 points and eight assists. Len also had a strong 20 points, eight rebounds and four assists as he came off the bench with Dewayne Dedmon back in the starting lineup. Collins had a double-double, adding 12 rebounds to his 27 points.
It was an all-around fun game for everybody besides those in the powder blue Memphis jerseys. The loss halted a three-game win streak for the Grizzlies (28-41), their longest since November. C.J. Miles was a bright spot, putting up 33 points, including 8-for-12 shooting on 3-pointers.
After being unable to extend leads past double digits in the first half, the Hawks came out stronger in the second half. They opened the third quarter on a 15-4 run, which included 3-pointers from Young and Kevin Huerter and finished with the cross-court alley-oop to Collins.
“Sometimes, finishing games is when you have a big lead, not letting a team come back and extending that lead,” Pierce said. “You want to force the other coach’s hand and make him put their subs in.”
The first half ebbed and flowed, though the Hawks controlled the lead the entire 24 minutes. The Hawks had two 11-point leads, 19-8 in the first quarter and 54-43 in the second, that the Grizzlies were able to chip down to two points. However, by stringing together stops and 3-pointers at the end of the second quarter, Atlanta managed to extend the advantage to 72-60 at half.