In many ways, the Hawks followed their normal patterns in a loss to the Nets on Wednesday.
They struggled rebounding (with the final tally 53-35 in Brooklyn’s favor). They couldn’t get stops on defense (allowing 74 points in the second half and giving up 14 3’s). Trae Young made a double-double of 39 points and 10 assists look way too easy (he’s only 21, yet that’s his 12th career game with 30-plus points and 10-plus assists).
But one aspect of the game stood out, way out, and broke from a previous pattern — Cam Reddish, who has been an asset on defense but has struggled big-time to find his shot, was on fire.
“It’s a dream come true, of course,” the rookie said into a crowd of media postgame.
Reddish scored a career-high 25 points (going 10-for-17 from the field, or 58.8%, and making 4-of-7 3’s, or 57.1%, another career-high). He added six rebounds and led the Hawks with three steals.
It had the feel of a breakout game for the rookie, who slowed things and barely rushed a shot all night, making his first two attempts of the game to start out strong. In the fourth quarter, Reddish swished a 3-pointer and went on to score 10 consecutive points for the Hawks, culminating in grabbing a defensive rebound and going coast-to-coast, finishing at the rim with his left hand to cut the Hawks’ deficit to 100-92 with 8:49 to play. Eager to see the rookie find some success, the crowd at State Farm Arena roared.
"I was just in it tonight," Reddish said, mentioning he felt like he was in a rush in previous games. "I was feeling it, kind of from the jump when I hit my first two. I was just feeling confident throughout the entire game. I mean, my teammates are finding me for open shots, and I was just able to knock them down."
In his four previous outings, Reddish had shot 8-for-32 from the field and 2-for-15 from 3-point range. He’s now averaging 8.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game.
About a month ago, after a few off-balance plays by Reddish, Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce had mentioned Reddish was trying to “beat people with moves” instead of readiness.
That wasn’t the case Wednesday. Reddish stayed aggressive and showed consistency.
“He scores his first five points on his first two shots, and I think that helps with any player, to see the ball go in the basket, to feel good about it,” Pierce said. “I thought the best part was it was from start to finish. There was really no drop-off in terms of his aggression and his shot-making. His points came in bunches, and they came in different periods of the game. For him to play consistently and score consistently all night was most impressive. Was just good to see.”
Whether this was a breakout game for Reddish will be determined by what he does next. But for now, it was a huge leap in the right direction for the rookie.
“I think now that relieves some pressure,” Pierce said. “He knows he can do it. Now it’s about backing it up and continuing to put in the work that he’s been putting in.”