Hawks put together complete performance in win vs. Hornets

Malik Monk of the Charlotte Hornets tries to stop Trae Young #11 of the Atlanta Hawks during their game at Spectrum Center on December 08, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Credit: Streeter Lecka

Credit: Streeter Lecka

The city of Atlanta went 2-0 against the city of Charlotte Sunday.

Not long after the struggling Falcons beat the Panthers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the struggling Hawks (6-17) polished off the Hornets (9-16), posting a 122-107 win at Spectrum Center.

Trae Young may have led the Hawks in scoring with 30 points, to go with nine assists, but this was a well-rounded effort, with five other players tallying double-digit points in Jabari Parker (19 points), Vince Carter (season-high 17 points), Alex Len (13 points) and Allen Crabbe (11 points). The Hawks tallied 28 assists total and made a season-high 18 3-pointers.

On paper, this was a decent opportunity for the Hawks to pick up a win, now that their schedule has let up a bit, and they capitalized.

“That’s probably about as balanced as we’ve played all year in terms of ball movement, 28 assists, we get up 40-something 3’s, and they were clean looks, they were assisted looks,” Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. “There was a lot of ball movement. I thought everybody was engaged on both sides of the floor. No excuses, but that’s the beauty of having everybody healthy and being able to pick and choose who’s out there, trying to get some guys in rhythm.”

The Hawks got a boost with Kevin Huerter, in his second game back from a left shoulder injury, playing on a 25-minute restriction. Huerter, who took over as point guard when Young was off the floor, had nine points, six assists, two rebounds, two steals and one blocked shot, with zero turnovers.

Trailing 53-51 at halftime, the Hawks worked their way up to a 73-69 lead after a step-back 3-pointer by Young with 4:56 left in the third quarter. A 3-pointer by Len, his fifth made 3-pointer of the season, later made it 81-75 and another 3 by Carter stretched the Hawks’ lead to nine.

All in all, the Hawks outscored the Hornets 37-30 in the third quarter and started the fourth off on a 12-2 run to pull away, 100-85.

“We just played good from the first quarter to the fourth,” Young said. “We hung in there and kept it close and made our run I think late in that third quarter and early in the fourth quarter and we were able to maintain that lead and finish it out, so it was good.”

Young, who was scrappy on defense, scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to help seal the win.

“To me, that was his best game of the year,” Pierce said of Young. “I thought he had leadership on both sides of the floor, I thought he was engaged. He’s yelling out their plays and barking to us and he was engaged and into bodies. And I thought, you know, when you’re locked in on both sides of the basketball, and you’re leading your team, he was composed, he still ends up with 30 and nine. I thought this was his best game as a floor general, I thought it was his best game as a defender.”

The Hawks entered the game ranked last in the league in 3-point percentage (shooting 31.2% from 3-point range, making an average of 10 a game). They entered as the second-worst in the league in defensive rebounding (31.6 per game), with Charlotte the only team behind them (31.1).

On Sunday, they made 18 of 45 3’s (40%) and grabbed 37 defensive rebounds compared to the Hornets’ 31 (out-rebounding the Hornets 48-44 overall). Len led the Hawks in rebounding with 10 and center Damian Jones added eight.

The Hawks play in Miami (16-6) Tuesday.

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