The Hawks (3-5) scored 36 points in the third quarter and rallied to make it a game, but couldn’t overtake the Kings Friday at State Farm Arena, losing 121-109.
Below are some takeaways from the loss:
1. As rough as the first half was for the Hawks, that’s how sharp they were in the third quarter to turn a 21-point blowout back into a game. After shooting 60.9% from the field, with four made 3’s in the third, the Hawks at one point narrowed the deficit to four points. They were still in it heading into the fourth, trailing 91-83, until the Kings pulled away. “It was good to see the fight in the third quarter and most of the fourth quarter, but it takes a lot to come back when you’re down 18, it takes a lot of energy, it takes a lot of effort,” coach Lloyd Pierce said. “Need some big shots to go down, and we did (that) and then they made another run and that was really the separation.” Trae Young scored 22 of his 30 points in the second half, which helped the Hawks gain ground (he also had 12 assists for a double-double).
2. As soon as the Hawks got within one point at 94-93 with 9:03 to play in the fourth (after a Young 3-pointer and an intercepted pass by Young set up a layup by rookie Cam Reddish), the Hawks had two quick turnovers (they actually registered a season-low 12 turnovers in the game, they just came at a bad time) and the Kings made two quick 3’s and never looked back. That was really the game’s turning point. The Kings couldn’t miss from 3 (shooting 58.1%), which kept the Hawks chasing. Pierce on the Hawks’ 3-point defense: “You get to a shooter, make ‘em put it on the floor. We got to a shooter and put a hand up. ... It didn’t matter where we were, they were letting them fly.” The Hawks actually had their best shooting night of the young season (52.9%), but the Kings staying hot from 3-point range kept them ahead.
3. The Hawks entered Friday’s game shooting 29% from 3-point range, which ranks 29th in the league. In the first half, Kevin Huerter was the only Hawk to make a 3-pointer, going 2-for-4, and as a team, the Hawks shot 2-for-14 from 3-point range, or 14.3%, through two quarters. That evened out a little bit in the second half, going 9-for-28 total (32.1%), but that’s still not the production they want. A lot of the Hawks’ 3-point attempts were taken off the dribble, which adds difficulty and could be contributing to struggles behind the arc. “We want assisted 3’s, and we need guys that can get in the paint,” Pierce said. “That’s why we keep talking about ‘downhill.’ So we’re getting 3’s. We’re not getting the ones we want just yet. And that’ll change.”
4. Huerter had his best game of the season, adding 17 points (6-for-10 from the field, 4-for-7 from 3), four assists and three rebounds, with zero turnovers. More than anything that would show up in the box score, he just looked more explosive and comfortable after struggling with right knee issues that kept him out the whole preseason.
5. It doesn’t get any easier for the Hawks, who fall to 3-5, as they leave for a road trip out west, facing Portland, Denver and Phoenix, then both the Clippers and Lakers in Los Angeles. They’ll look to start out faster in these upcoming games, Young said: “We’ve got to be focused. Focused because we’re playing five really good teams that are playing at a high level right now. We’ve got to be really locked in, really focused and if we do that, we’ll give ourselves a chance.”
By the numbers
18 (the amount of 3-pointers the Kings made, compared to the Hawks’ nine)
“It takes so much just to get back in the game, you can’t put yourself in a hole. And tonight, we put ourselves a hole in the first half.” (Coach Lloyd Pierce on the Hawks falling behind by 21 points in the first half)
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