A Trae Young-less Atlanta Hawks hit the hardwood Halloween night, looking to rebound from a two-game losing streak. Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn ensured that was not to be the case, as the duo combined for 45 points and helped their squad to a comfortable 106-97 win.
“I thought our guys competed tonight,” head coach Lloyd Pierce said. “We’re still learning each other. We’ve got a lot of young guys.”
Without Young, Thursday night’s game was all about communication on the floor.
“With Trae being out, one of our main leaders, I think communication is key,” Cam Reddish said pre-game.
It was Reddish who looked to facilitate in the opening minutes, as he and Kevin Huerter looked to handle the majority of the playmaking duties. The guard got to the hole with ease, drawing a couple of early fouls and knocking down four free throws as the Hawks opened up the first quarter with an 11-8 run.
“I thought [Reddish] had great pace in the first couple of possessions,” Pierce said. Soon after, though, Reddish’s inexperience began to show.
After some sloppy defensive play on the perimeter, the Heat closed the quarter on a 22-15 run and took a 30-26 lead.
The Hawks finished the quarter on a high note, though. After a Reddish block and outlet pass, DeAndre’ Bembry threw down a one-handed jam to electrify the State Farm Arena crowd. The dunk was one of Atlanta’s few highlight plays of the night.
Bembry went on to finish the contest with a double-double, recording 18 points, 10 rebounds and a team-high eight assists off the bench.
The second quarter saw much of the same. The Heat were active on the glass early and opened up a 48-33 lead before Pierce called a timeout with 4:37 to go.
Out of the timeout, the Hawks responded with a 13-4 run to close the half and cut the deficit to 52-46. Bembry and Tyrone Wallace, who dropped six points of his own, led the charge.
The Hawks came out stale in the second half, though. Reddish and Huerter continued to struggle with their playmaking and Kendrick Nunn began to pour it on for the Heat. After draining a three pointer, the guard intercepted a pass and threw down a break away dunk. The Heat fans inside the building began to find their collective voices.
Nunn, who’s performance was of no surprise to Jabari Parker, finished with a game-high 28 points.
“He’s had a different, less-publicized journey,” Parker said. “But it’s long overdue. He’s supposed to have been here with me [in the NBA] a long time ago.”
Trailing 71-57, Pierce threw his bench unit back in, trying to regain the team’s long lost second quarter spark.
Things went from bad to worse when John Collins went down with a left ankle sprain. He could not continue and headed straight for the locker room, but returned in the fourth quarter.
But the bench unit began to find its form once again, as Parker, who finished the game with a team-high 23 points, and Bembry combined for 14 points in the third quarter, including an acrobatic offensive rebound and putback by Bembry.
“I am really proud of DeAndre’ Bembry. I am really proud and happy for Jabari Parker,” Pierce said. “I thought those two guys really gave us a spark.”
A Tyler Herro 3-pointer with less than a second on the third quarter clock killed off the momentum and gave the Heat an 85-75 advantage going into the fourth and final quarter of play.
While the bench continued to fight in the early stages of the fourth, the team ultimately burned out, and Erik Spoelstra’s Heat polished off the Hawks for the second time this week.
The team will enjoy a much-needed break until it takes on the San Antonio Spurs on Nov. 5.
“[The break] can help us regroup,” Parker said. “It’s real good that we have these couple of days off.”
Things We Learned:
Playmaking a Big Issue Without Young
While the makeshift backcourt of Reddish and Huerter started the game well, it quickly progressed into more of a nightmare.
“I thought [Reddish] started the game off great,” Pierce said. “I think it’s a new spot, it’s a new position and it was good for him to experience that.”
Reddish began forcing shots, namely a circus layup attempt in the second quarter which drew some groans from those in attendance.
“I [have to] slow down,” Reddish said. “I have to let the game come to me and just play my game. I know I’ll be perfectly fine.”
While the game was certainly a learning experience for guys like Reddish, Young’s absence was felt all night. The team will be hoping to put this performance behind them and welcome Young back to the floor as soon as possible. 4
Tough Night for DeAndre Hunter
While Hunter’s defensive performance had some moments throughout the evening, his offensive game was subpar at best.
The rookie struggled throughout and finished 1-for-9 from the field with a measly four points.
This was one to forget.
Tyler Herro Looks Like a Future Star
We know Zion Williamson, Ja Morrant and RJ Barrett will dictate the majority of the rookie talk this season, but Herro is making a great impression on the league so far.
A product of John Calipari’s Kentucky program, Herro has crushed the Hawks across their two games this week, averaging 23 points-per-game in the process.
It seemed like Herro was there with a demoralizing 3-pointer every time the Hawks put together some momentum Thursday night. His cold-blooded nature on the floor is exciting to watch.
Technically speaking, Herro’s step back is sublime and his outside shooting is sure to light up the league for years to come. Don’t take your eyes off this kid. He could be something special and may just go on to win the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award.