De’Andre Hunter scores 23 as Hawks dominate Kevin Durant, Nets in 114-96 win

The Atlanta Hawks notched a statement win, 114-96, over the Brooklyn Nets in the Barclays Center on Friday night to extend their record to 4-1 on the young 2020-21 season. 

Lloyd Pierce found contributions everywhere as six Hawks scored in double figures, led by De’Andre Hunter’s 23 points on a career-night of 9-10 shooting. Meanwhile, John Collins scored 20 and grabbed eight rebounds in just 25 minutes.

In addition to the win, some Hawks also notched milestones in the Empire State.

Trae Young scored 21 points with seven assists as he surpassed the 1,250 mark for his career.

Clint Capela notched his first double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds, including five offensive boards. The first-year Hawk also recorded a career-high six assists. 

Kevin Heurter scored 10 points in 21 minutes off the bench. He also snatched a career-high four steals. The third-year guard has taken noticeable strides forward this season on both the offensive and defensive end and can be a crucial piece off the bench to help propel Atlanta to the playoffs

Across the board, the Hawks played outstandingly as a team. They shot better than the Nets from the field, on three-pointers and on free throws. They dished out more assists and forced more turnovers than the Nets did. 

The win cannot come at a more convincing time for the young Hawks team, as they faced two of the NBA’s best scorers, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. 

Durant scored a game-high 28 points to go along with eight rebounds while being primarily guarded by Atlanta’s two-way forwards Hunter and Cam Reddish.

On the other hand, Irving struggled to find his rhythm, scoring 18 on an inefficient 6-21 from the field. As a team, Brooklyn shot just 41% from the field. They also struggled from three-point range, connecting on only seven of their 37 attempts from deep, which began with 12 straight misses to start the game.

The shots were not open either, and the new-look Hawks team did well against one of the NBA’s better teams. They made Brooklyn uncomfortable and forced Steve Nash’s squad to shoot contested shots throughout the game. 

Joe Harris’ 12 points gave Nash just three double-digit scorers in the loss.

The Hawks’ frontcourt play led to this game’s result, and they finished with a 46-42 advantage on points in the paint. Pierce’s team may have uncovered a weakness in one of the East favorites to reach the NBA Finals. 

With Trae Young and the Hawks starters on the bench, the lead ballooned to double digits both in the second and third quarters, allowing Pierce to hit cruise control late in the fourth.

In the two-game stint against Brooklyn, the Hawks split the short series and showed they are more than capable of competing with upper-echelon teams. A narrow defeat on Wednesday and Friday’s blowout win provided more evidence of the evolution of the Hawks’ newfound success. 

But the Hawks have not reached their full potential yet and are still gelling, building team chemistry, and figuring out how to play with each other. Even with new key players like Rajon Rondo, Danilo Gallinari and Kris Dunn missing some time, the Hawks compete at the highest level and pick up convincing wins. 

This team is not your same Hawks squad from years past, struggling to win close games or even compete with better teams most nights. After years of rebuilding through the draft and an offseason filled with successful signings, Atlanta’s young core’s growth finds the team in position to make some noise in a competitive Eastern Conference.

The Hawks will travel back to Atlanta as they take on the Cleveland Cavaliers Saturday night at State Farm Arena.