Coming off a rough three-point loss versus the Boston Celtics, the Atlanta Hawks were up against another tough test as they hosted the Indiana Pacers on the second game of a back-to-back.
This matchup was set to tip-off a three-game homestand at the State Farm Arena, a place the Hawks hadn't won in over a month.
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Here are the biggest takeaways from a game that the Hawks won despite missing key rotation players in John Collins, Jabari Parker, and rookie Cam Reddish.
Young wills Hawks to win
Trae Young started off hot.
He scored a career-high 30 points (9-12 FG, 5-7 3PT) in the first half, 18 of which came in a perfect first quarter.
18 PTS | 6-6 FGM | 3-3 3PM- NBA (@NBA) January 5, 2020
Perfect shooting from the field in the 1st quarter for Trae Young. pic.twitter.com/QSs4BTwSys
His hot start led the Hawks to a 17-point lead after the first 12 minutes of the game.
Young added another 12 in the second quarter but with the Pacers fighting back, Atlanta held a slim four-point lead at halftime.
Young had a relatively quiet second half (11 points - 3/12 FG), including the fourth quarter but he came up with few clutch plays in the final seconds to ensure the Hawks came out on top in this one.
He recorded a clutch steal with 3.5 seconds to go in the game and scored the team's last five points including this tough layup late:
Toughhhh 😤 pic.twitter.com/LpTxRCwB3M- Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) January 5, 2020
As a whole, Young finished with 41 points (12-23 FG), eight assists, four rebounds, tand two steals in 37 minutes.
Although the Hawks might hold the worst record in the league due to injuries and multiple other reasons, Young is having a spectacular sophomore season with averages of 28.8 points, 8.3 assists, and 4.3 rebounds on 44.5% shooting from the field through 33 games.
Trae Young recorded his 6th career 40-point game tonight, tying LeBron James and Allen Iverson for the 3rd-most by a player in his 1st 2 seasons in the league since the 1976-77 merger.- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 5, 2020
Only Shaquille O'Neal (10) and Michael Jordan (7) had more in their 1st 2 seasons. pic.twitter.com/Sp2gL27rj7
Rough game for Pacers without Malcolm Brogdon
Malcolm Brogdon missed this game with a back injury and is set to miss the team's next game, a couple of days later, in Charlotte.
With Victor Oladipo yet to return, the Pacers have struggled without Malcolm Brogdon especially in the past few games. Including this game, the Pacers are 4-5 without Brogdon losing four of their last five.
The starting backcourt of Aaron Holiday and Jeremy Lamb combined for 28 points (8-29 FG). The reserve guards Edmond Sumner and T.J. McConnell too combined for four points and five assists on 2-of-7 shooting from the field in 16 minutes apiece.
These four guards combined for six of the team's 11 turnovers.
Kevin Huerter answers call for next-man-up
With three key players missing from the Hawks' rotation, just Trae Young's herculean performance might not have cut it. So his sophomore backcourt mate Kevin Huerter stepped up and answered the call.
He tallied a season-high 26 points (10-18 FG) and knocked down four 3-pointers in a team-high 41 minutes. He also recorded near season-high numbers of six rebounds and five assists while finishing a team-best plus-8 +/-.
"It was nice man, it was nice [to beat the Pacers]," Huerter said as he spoke about his performance and the win in his postgame interaction with the media in the locker room.
Kevin Huerter made four threes and scored a season-high 26 points! pic.twitter.com/KhJkBYpQqL- FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) January 5, 2020