“It sucks, everybody played hard on both ends,” Trae Young said.
The Atlanta Hawks hosted the Utah Jazz Thursday night. The teams battled back and forth, but ultimately the Jazz battled out a 111-106 victory. With this loss, the Hawks remain at the bottom of the Eastern Conference at 6-23 and extend their losing streak to 6.
In a game as close as this, what helped the Hawks stay in the game, and what caused the Hawks to lose ultimately?
We’ll start with the positives.
It goes without saying that at this point in the season, Trae Young is typically a guaranteed positive game in and game out. Trae Young scored a team-high 30 points and gave the Hawks some crucial three-pointers to keep the game alive and in some cases, give the Hawks the lead down the stretch. Also, Young added 8 assists and facilitated the offense at a high level, showing great maturity.
Despite coming off the bench, Jabari Parker added 23 points of his own to the offense. With Young and most of the Atlanta offense ice cold in the first quarter, it was Parker who came to the rescue, scoring 11 points and providing the spark the Hawks desperately needed. Against a strong competitor like the Jazz, it proves how crucial Parker’s output is to the team, as the team led for most of the game.
“Jabari off the bench was excellent; it was good to see him play that way tonight,” Head Coach Lloyd Pierce said.
Atlanta’s defense put the pressure on Utah from the first tip, all the way to the final whistle. This increased defensive pressured showed. The Jazz finished the game with 18 turnovers. Pressuring the paint and jumping into passing lanes were the big success for the Hawks defense. Despite not capitalizing on the majority of the turnovers, the Hawks still managed to squeeze some crucial second-chance points out of the constant pressure. Going forward in the season, if the Hawks can keep up the pressure and can capitalize on transition scoring, this team could turn from a presumed rollover to a very tough opponent.
Now, what went negative for Atlanta that fueled the nail-biting loss?
The Hawks defense did a fantastic job of forcing Utah into some difficult shots in the paint. Unfortunately, most of the time, the whistle ended up being blown for a foul. Atlanta finished the night with 27 fouls. This equated to the Jazz shooting 38 free throws and capitalizing on 27 of them. With numerous back to back possessions ending in a shooting foul, it halted most of the momentum the Hawks offense would build up. Also, it slowed down the game, making it harder for Coach Pierce’s men to get the pace going again and allowing Utah’s offense to get going.
Donovan Mitchell & Rudy Gobert
Donovan Mitchell remained relatively quiet for a lot of the first quarter and some of the second, in part to solid defense by the Hawks backcourt. But there’s a reason Mitchell is the star of the Jazz, as the second half he took over the game. Mitchell finished the game with 30 points along with 5 assists. During the 4th quarter, he and Young were trading baskets keeping the game within 1, but as Young began to miss, it was Mitchell who kept scoring and creating, ultimately stealing the game from Atlanta.
Rudy Gobert was unstoppable down low Thursday night. Gobert finished the game with 20 points and 13 rebounds. The Jazz realized quick that the Atlanta frontcourt was struggling to contain Gobert down low and made the most of it. Atlanta had to take the chance and foul Gobert and test the big man at the free-throw line. Gobert shot 10-19 from the free-throw line, gifting Utah with some crucial points down the stretch.
“Gobert was a handful for us, the big offensive rebound and dunk at the end kind of summed it all up,” Coach Pierce said
Turnovers killed the Hawks Thursday night. Despite forcing 18 turnovers, the Hawks had 16 turnovers of their own, many of which coming from the fast break following a Utah turnover. In addition to the foul trouble the Hawks found themselves in, the turnovers were the nail in the coffin for the offense. With the defense creating plenty of stops throughout the night, the turnovers slowed down any attempt at going on the big run the Hawks needed.
Despite dropping their sixth game in a row, it’s crucial fans remember how young the team is and to look at the growth of the team rather than the record to determine the success of the season. Atlanta hits the road to take on the Brooklyn Nets Saturday, December 21, and will look to bounce back from this tough loss.
“If we play that way, good things are going to happen,” Young said.