Hawks recover to take down Suns

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

One night after failing to execute down the stretch against the Pistons, the Hawks showed some grit and perseverance to take down the Phoenix Suns late in a 120-112 win that gave the Hawks their 20th win of the season.

All five Hawks starters reached double figures, led by Kent Bazemore and Trae Young with 23 apiece, and Taurean Prince was right behind with 21. John Collins got his 23rd double-double of the season with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Dewayne Dedmon also came up with 18 points, eight rebounds and six blocks, the last of which tied a career high.

With 2:13 left in the game, the Hawks capitalized on a pivotal sequence of plays. The Hawks were up 109-107 when Dedmon blocked Devin Booker’s fast-break layup, giving Prince the opportunity to make an and-one layup going the other way. Still frustrated the Dedmon block wasn’t a foul, Suns coach Igor Kokoskov lost his cool and got a technical foul.

Prince converted his technical free throw and missed the second, but the five-point swing left the Hawks with a 112-107 advantage that they held onto the rest of the game.

It was the Suns’ 17th consecutive loss. Phoenix was led by 29 points from Tyler Johnson and 26 from Booker.

Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce knew Booker could cause the Hawks problems. He pointed to Prince’s defense on the Suns’ leading scorer as a key part of the win.

“I thought (Prince’s) effort on Booker all night was great, and that was the most important thing,” Pierce said. “He had to guard an elite scorer, and he did a great job rebounding, so he had a great game.”

Booker’s 26 points came on an inefficient 8-for-23 shooting from the field. Prince said he was motivated by the opportunity to go against such a big-name scorer.

“(Going against) those players gets me activated before the game. I just went out there focused on trying to make things as difficult as I can,” Prince said.

With five minutes left in the game, the Hawks were down 103-95, but made a run to put themselves back in position to win the game. Omari Spellman made back-to-back shots and Young made a pair of free throws to cut the lead to 103-102. After Johnson extended the lead to 105-102 with a jumper, Young buried a 3-pointer from the edge of the logo to tie the score and force a Phoenix timeout.

Bazemore’s most impressive play of the night came at the end of the third quarter. With the shot clock winding down, Bazemore collected a loose ball on the right wing and stepped into a 28-footer that hit nothing but net and gave the Hawks a momentary lead.

In the fashion of the game, the Suns ran down and made a shot on the other end to retake an 87-86 lead heading into the final frame.

Very little separated the Hawks and Suns in the first half. Across the first 24 minutes there were 13 lead changes and four ties, and neither team could build a lead that eclipsed 10 points. The Suns were able to stretch their lead to eight in the second quarter, but the Hawks responded with a 24-12 run to close the half and take a 63-59 lead into the break.