With help from bench players and Trae Young, the Hawks amazing performance at the second half, Hawks beat the Grizzlies 122-112 on Saturday night and improved to 2-0 no loss record in the opening season of NBA.
From the bench, Kevin Huerter added 21 points and four assists, hitting the 20-point mark for the 10th time in his career, two-way player Nathan Knight scored 14 points, Solomon Hill scored 6 points and Brandon Goodwin scored 5 points
The Hawks’ starting lineup found their footing in the second half, with Young tallying 36 points (12 in the first half) and nine assists in the game. De’Andre Hunter tallied his fourth career double-double, with 11 rebounds and 15 points and John Collins adding 10 rebounds and 13 points.
“It was great,” Young said. “Our bench came in and gave us a lot of energy, gave us a lot of points. Nathan had a hell of a night. If there were game balls that went out to players, he would have gotten it today, the way he played was unbelievable coming off the bench. Just happy for him and the way he played, because with everybody being out, it’s our motto, the next man up, so Nathan was that guy today, and he stepped up big-time for us.”
Memphis has been a particularly tough matchup for the Hawks lately, so the Hawks nabbing a win while shorthanded is significant without Rajon Rondo. In their two exhibition games vs. Memphis, a 128-106 loss Dec. 17 and a 117-116 win Dec. 19, the Hawks had a tough time balancing defending the paint against aggressive point guard Ja Morant and physical center Jonas Valanciunas while defending the 3-point line. This time, the Hawks limited the Grizzlies to 30.2% from the outside.
Thanks to 30 bench points, the Hawks led the Grizzlies, 58-56, at halftime.
In the fourth quarter, Young found Hunter for an open 3 to give the Hawks a 108-104 advantage with 4:08 left, and Young scored 10 points in the final three minutes to finish the game.
The Hawks were playing shorthanded, particularly when it comes to their frontcourt, so they started a small-ball lineup of Young, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Cam Reddish, Hunter and Collins. Collins picked up two early fouls, which meant the Hawks went to Bruno Fernando early in the first quarter and Hunter picked up two early fouls too.
After going through pregame warm-ups, Danilo Gallinari (left foot contusion) was downgraded to out Pierce explained that someone stepped on Gallinari’s foot during the season opener vs Chicago. Other star players and role players are also out with Center Clint Capela left Achilles soreness missed his second game in a row, and Kris Dunn cartilage disruption, right knee, Onyeka Okongwu inflammation, sesamoid bone, left foot and Tony Snell inflammation, cuboid bone, right foot are still out.