Hawks shoot season-low percentage in blowout loss to Grizzlies

Memphis Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks (24) shoots as Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins defends during the first half of Monday's game in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)

Memphis Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks (24) shoots as Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins defends during the first half of Monday's game in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)

It was clear from the energy level in the Hawks’ 127-88 loss to the Grizzlies Monday at State Farm Arena that Memphis (30-31) is in the playoff hunt, while the Hawks (19-44) are limping through the season with the fourth-worst record in the league.

Below are some takeaways from the loss:

1. The first half was one of the uglier halves you’ll see in basketball. Aside from the time the Hawks gave up 81 points in a demoralizing loss to the Rockets Nov. 30, this was likely their worst start all season ⁠— for a little while, the Grizzlies weren’t much better.

The Grizzlies went scoreless until the 7:51 mark of the first quarter, missing their first 11 shots, but the Hawks somehow trailed by just three points at halftime after a late floater by Trae Young, who led the team in scoring with 19 points. The Hawks shot 33.3% from the field in the first half compared to the Grizzlies’ 37.3%, and the teams combined for 18 first-half turnovers in a sloppy display (10 by the Hawks, eight by the Grizzlies).

Against a Grizzlies team that is No. 8 in the Western Conference, the low level of competition from the Hawks left coach Lloyd Pierce at a loss for words at his postgame press conference: "I don't know what that was. I've got nothing for you guys. You can ask away, I've got nothing for you... I don't know what to teach. You can't teach effort. You can talk about it. Effort is effort."

2. This game turned the Hawks’ recent pattern of high-scoring offense on its head. Entering Monday’s loss, the Hawks had led the league in points per game (122) over their last 10 games, spanning from their loss in Boston Feb. 3 to their win vs. Portland Saturday.

That came to a screeching halt when they shot their lowest field-goal percentage of the season (32.3%), narrowly missing out on their lowest point total of the season (81 in a loss to Chicago Dec. 28). The Hawks were held to 0.82 points per possession. The Grizzlies out-rebounded the Hawks, 60-43. With Atlanta scoring 39 total points in the second half and unable to get stops on the other end, this quickly devolved into a blowout in the third quarter and got even worse in the fourth, with Memphis adding eight 3’s and scoring 43 points on 75% shooting. “This is a game you can just throw in the trash,” Young said. “You can’t really watch film on this. All you can really do is just reflect on your energy, reflect on how hard you competed.”

3. With such a clunky first half and lopsided second half, this wasn’t the match-up between Young and Memphis point guard Ja Morant, two budding stars, that you might have guessed. Young had a quiet night by his standards and couldn’t get going from distance, going 0-for-4 from 3-point range and 5-for-17 from the field (nine free throws helped him get to 19 points). He had two assists and seven turnovers in a little under 30 minutes. Morant added 13 points (6-10 FG) and five assists (zero turnovers) in a little over 24 minutes. The pair, who played together in Team USA’s Rising Stars Challenge win and are good friends, exchanged jerseys after the game. "He's a special talent,” Morant said of Young. “I'm pretty sure everybody knows what he's doing. Torching the league right now. He's a great guy off the court. He's my guy."

4. Without Cam Reddish (low back pain) on the wing and Dewayne Dedmon (right elbow pain) at center, the Hawks were undermanned. The Hawks had 10 healthy bodies to work with. “It’s tough when you got more dudes in suits than jerseys,” Young said. “We’ve just got to get everybody healthy. Three games in four nights isn’t easy. They’re obviously battling super hard to get a playoff spot. You saw how much they fought for it and they wanted it more than us tonight. That’s just what it is.” Rookie Bruno Fernando started at center and struggled through with two points and six rebounds.

5. The Hawks have yet to win three consecutive games this season. They have won two consecutive games four times, including their first set of wins on back-to-back days against Brooklyn Friday and Portland Saturday, but win No. 3 evaded them yet again.

By the Numbers 

9 (the amount of Grizzlies players that scored in double-figures)


“I try to usually forget these moments. Try to pull them out and forget them and move on from them. You never like to lose like this at home. I’m not trying to remember this or any other 30-point losses.” (John Collins, who had 12 points and three rebounds, on the blowout loss)