The Hawks’ three-point shooting struggles prove to be costly in loss to the Spurs

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The second-best three-point shooting team in the NBA came out flat against the Spurs as the Hawks started the game 0-6 from deep. Their opponents did the exact opposite, coming out the gates making all six of their three-point attempts. 

After the first quarter, not one of the Hawks’ starters successfully attempted a three-pointer as opposed to the Spurs’ who had four of their five starters make a three in the opening quarter. They finished the first shooting an astounding 80% from deep whilst the Hawks struggled mightily, only able to make 18.2 percent of their long-range attempts. This was a catalyst for the Spurs’ 43-29 lead at the end of the first quarter.

In the second quarter, the Hawks received the surge they needed as Danilo Gallinari dropped 11 points early in the period. This allowed for them to go on a 14-6 run to shrink the Spurs’ lead to 49-43, ramping up the energy in State Farm Arena in the process. 

Their comeback effort would be cut short with sloppy play and failure to protect the paint which allowed for an 8-0 run from the Spurs to return the lead back to 14. 

Everything the Hawks were trying to do, the Spurs seemed to have an answer for it. When the Hawks would go on a run, the Spurs would go on a run of their own. If the Hawks hit a couple of threes, the Spurs would return the favor hitting four of them. 

The Hawks’ high-level play came and went as they couldn’t get anything to go consistently. The half came to an end and Kevin Huerter was the only Hawks’ starter to make a long-range jumper. The team was sinking as their poor shooting night from deep continued, finishing the second quarter at 17.6 percent (3-17).

On the other hand, the Spurs continued to feast, shooting 70% from three at the half, leading 73-57. First-time all-star Dejounte Murray was at the forefront for this lead, with a 15-point and 10-assist double-double at halftime. Each Spurs’ starter had at least nine points at the conclusion of the first half while the Hawks only had one starter to do so.

Spurs came out of the half looking to pull away, going on a 9-2 run, increasing the lead to 24. The Hawks bench once again played a massive factor in their comeback attempts as Gallinari and Bojan Bogdanovic combined for 31 points at this point in the game after a 20-7 answer to the Spurs’ initial run to open the half. 

The crowd was rocking as the Hawks trailed 97-85, fans could feel the comeback coming any second but it never did. The third quarter ended 103-87. The Spurs would eventually ice the game and defeat the Hawks 136-121. 

Dejounte Murray had his fingerprints all over this game, tying career-highs in points at 32 and assists with 15. Along with all of that, he snatched his 11th triple-double of the season. Along with his efficiency shooting 60 percent from the field, Murray played cautious, with his 15 assists he only had one turnover. 

The difference in this game was the scoring both teams gained through their starting five and three-point percentage. The Spurs had three different starters score over 20 points, while the Hawks had no starter score over 18 points. The Hawks’ leading scorer was the aforementioned Bogdanovic who scored 23 off of the bench. 

The Spurs attempted 11 fewer three-point jumpers but made four more than the Hawks did as they finished the game shooting an impressive 56 percent on 18 of 32 threes. The Hawks shot 43 times from deep, only making 14 of them putting their percentage at 32 to close out the contest. 

Hawks head coach Nate McMillan spoke on his team’s three-point struggles against the Spurs and why he saw it as a problem. 

“Some of those shots we passed on some open looks to take some tough shots that were contested., said McMillan. “We never got a lot of clean, open shots up. We had some open shots we didn’t make, we passed up some looks, I thought we should’ve taken. We took a lot of contested shots and we haven’t hit a high percentage of those shots all season.”

The Hawks travel to Boston on Feb. 13th to take on the Celtics on ABC. They’ll need a confidence boost heading into the All-Star break and with two games left before then this game could prove to be just that.