Behind standout performances from Trae Young and Kevin Huerter, the Hawks (8-28) held on to beat the Pacers 116-111 Saturday at State Farm Arena.
Below are some takeaways from the win:
1. Young was on fire in the first half, setting a career-high in points scored in a half with 30 points in 19 minutes. He was efficient, going 9-for-12 from the field, 5-for-7 from 3-point range and 7-for-8 from the line. He couldn’t miss from the field in the first quarter, shooting 6-for-6 from the field and 3-for-3 from 3-point range, with his lone misfire coming at the line (3-for-4 on free throws). Young’s 18 points in the first quarter helped the Hawks to a 43-26 lead entering the second. That marked the Hawks’ second-highest scoring period of the season (with the highest being 44 points in a loss to Milwaukee Nov. 20), with the team committing zero turnovers during that stretch. Young cooled off a bit in the second half, but finished with 41 points (12 of 23 field goals, 5 of 13 from 3-point range, 12 of 14 free throws), eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. Young has reached the 40-point mark five times this season, which is the second-most in the NBA behind the Rockets’ James Harden (14).
2. At first, this seemed like a similar tale to Friday’s loss in Boston, with the Hawks jumping out to a big lead in the first quarter (leading by as much as 22 points) but letting it dwindle in the second and slip away in the third (the Hawks led by four at halftime and the Pacers took a 67-66 lead at the 9:26 mark in the third). Despite playing shorthanded, with John Collins (back contusion), Jabari Parker (throat infection) and Cam Reddish (right wrist sprain) out, the Hawks took a one-point lead into the fourth after a 3-pointer by Huerter, and had a four-point lead at the 3:15 mark after two free throws by Alex Len (Len finished with 16 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots). A driving layup by Young made it 113-109 with 1:18 to play. Two Pacers free throws narrowed it to 113-111 and the Hawks got the ball back with 4.5 seconds left, with Young going 3-for-4 from the line in the final seconds to seal the win. “We just closed the game out,” Young said. “We played smarter, we finished it, executed at the end of the game, and that’s what ultimately won us the game. That was something we learned, for us missing, a couple of our big pieces out, bouncing back like that was really good.”
3. Finally, the Hawks got a win on the second night of a back-to-back. Entering Saturday’s game, the Hawks were 0-7 in the scenario of playing in their second game in two days. They previously lost Oct. 29 in Miami, Nov. 6 vs. Chicago, Nov. 17 in Los Angeles against the Lakers, Nov. 23 vs. Toronto, Nov. 30 in Houston, Dec. 11 in Chicago and Dec. 28 in Chicago. “I thought our guys, similar to what we talked about (Friday), they were resilient, they were tough, and it was a total team effort tonight,” Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. “I’m really proud of our guys.”
4. After struggling with a right knee injury to start the season and missing 11 games with a left shoulder injury, Huerter seems to have gotten healthy and hit his stride. He finished with a season-high 26 points, to go with five assists, six rebounds and two steals. Over the past three games, Huerter is averaging 20.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists. “Feels great,” Huerter said. “Just to be able to play 41 minutes tonight, just the way the first 25 games of the season went, a lot of different frustrations, being out and then kind of being on minute restrictions. Every player wants to play. So the past three games I’ve logged a lot of minutes and so hopefully we can keep that up and do all the right things I can to keep myself healthy.”
5. When he checked into the game midway through the first quarter, Vince Carter made history as the first NBA player to play in four decades. Carter was the 1999 rookie of the year and won the NBA’s slam dunk contest in 2000. “I’m just very thankful to still be around and compete at this level,” Carter said.
By the numbers
16 (what the Hawks held the Pacers to in the fourth quarter)
“We’re playing musical chairs with our lineup before the game, with guys being out, and I thought the guys came in and really played inspired basketball.” (Coach Lloyd Pierce on the Hawks’ success even with Collins, Parker and Reddish out)
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