Image Courtesy of TSN
The Atlanta Hawks defeated the Houston Rockets on Tuesday by a score of 119-107. The Rockets came in on a 16-game losing streak, and luckily the Hawks were able to help them extend it to a franchise record-tying 17. Atlanta got off to a bit of a slow start, but by the 5:09 mark of the first quarter, they were able to grab the lead. This advantage would grow to as much as 23 in the second quarter, and it looked like the Hawks were in the clear. Then came the second half. Atlanta started slowly in this half, as well, but was unable to get it going as they did midway through the first. The lead that at points seemed insurmountable for the lowly Rockets was just a single point as the third period ended. Houston tied the game with 9:25 left in the fourth but was never able to snag the lead that they last held early in the first. The Hawks turned it on right when necessary and were up 11 with 2:30 to go in the game. This made for a relaxed finish to the game for Atlanta and, in the end, a win.
It is clear from the game flow that this was an up-and-down performance for Atlanta. This has been a major issue for the Hawks this year, whether it be inconsistency on a night-to-night basis or just within a game, such as on Tuesday. No matter who has been at the helm, Lloyd Pierce or Nate McMillan, the Hawks have really struggled to put up full, 48-minute performances. Obviously, it is a lot to ask on a nightly basis, but it would have been nice to see against a depleted, and just flat-out bad, Houston team.
At times the Hawks made a few of Houston’s players look far better than they truly are, but the Rockets still have a high-caliber guard in Victor Oladipo. VO torched the Hawks all night long. He was dialed in from deep and took advantage of the fact that Atlanta was missing many of its best perimeter defenders in this one. Once he blew by his man, he was lucky to see a lane without Clint Capela, who could not go due to injury. Another rim protector in John Collins dealt with some foul trouble, so Oladipo had it going. With just eight active players, Oladipo had to deliver, and he did just that. In 41 minutes, he had 34 points on only 20 shots. Kevin Porter Jr., a player who has found himself after some time in the G-League, also delivered with 22, while rookie Jae’Sean Tate notched a career-high 25. No other Houston players managed to reach double-digits. It is concerning at first look to see three perimeter players have so much success, but with recent positive news regarding the health statuses of De’Andre Hunter and Kris Dunn, two of the club’s top players at guarding on the perimeter, there are better things to come.
Unsurprisingly, the Hawks looked like they couldn’t be stopped for some stretches offensively, while during others, it looked like they were lost. In the first half, the offense was phenomenal. Trae Young was facilitating early; he had a first-half double-double, and John Collins was a recipient of many of those dimes. Nathan Knight was again a huge spark of the bench, while Danilo Gallinari, starting for the injured Capela, continued his hot run of play. Luckily, he played well in both halves, totaling 29 points, but the same could not be said for the rest of the club. John Collins found himself in foul trouble in the third, and when he headed for the bench, Trae Young’s level of play decreased. Once Rajon Rondo took the floor in place of Young late in the quarter, the offense looked completely lost; because of this tough stretch, the team managed just 20 points in the frame. Fortunately, Tony Snell was able to turn it on late from three-point land so that the Hawks could regain control of this game, and Trae Young hit a dagger deep-ball late to seal the game.
It would have been much more encouraging to see the Hawks continue their work from the first half of this contest and maybe even get their starters some rest in the fourth, but a win is a win, nonetheless. This victory extends the Hawks’ win streak to six, and with positive injury news Tuesday, things are looking up for this ballclub under Nate McMillan. Atlanta will retake the floor at State Farm Arena on Thursday against the Oklahoma City Thunder, looking to avenge a loss earlier in the campaign.