Peachtree Hoops: Third quarter sinks Hawks in 131-113 loss to Grizzlies


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Memphis Grizzlies v Atlanta Hawks
Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Less than 24 hours after the final buzzer sounded on Tuesday evening at State Farm Arena, the Atlanta Hawks were back on the floor on Wednesday. After knocking off the New Orleans Pelicans behind a three-point barrage, the Hawks faced off against the Memphis Grizzlies to complete a two-game season series that began with a win at FedEx Forum in December. At the outset, things were trending in Atlanta’s direction, but Memphis flipped the script in decisive fashion, and the Hawks saw their four-game winning streak snapped with a 131-113 defeat.

The Hawks came out firing in similar fashion to Tuesday. Atlanta took a 9-2 lead in short order, with Trae Young finding Bogdan Bogdanovic with a beautiful pass for the team’s first bucket and Onyeka Okongwu finishing twice at the rim in the opening minutes.

It didn’t stop there, with Solomon Hill and Kevin Huerter getting into the act from three-point distance. Eventually, the Hawks took a 25-11 lead while making four of their first five three-pointers and generating seven assists in fewer than eight minutes.

The rest of the quarter did not go according to plan for Atlanta, as Memphis chipped away until a foul in the final seconds. After the Grizzlies converted a pair of free throws, the Hawks led by only five points after 12 minutes.

Then, Memphis opened the second quarter by scoring the first seven points, completely erasing Atlanta’s 14-point early edge. Fortunately, the Hawks continued to be absolutely unconscious from long distance, making 8 of their first 12 three-pointers, including a four-point play from Tony Snell.

The Hawks cooled off, though, and the Grizzlies took advantage. Memphis led by three points at the half after a strong close to the second quarter, and the Grizzlies shot 56 percent from the floor and 47 percent from three-point range in the first 24 minutes. Atlanta’s porous defense was at least partially responsible, but the Hawks did play well offensively.

The home team shot 52 percent from the floor and 47 percent from three-point distance in their own right, allowing them to keep pace. Seven different players scored seven points or more for the Hawks before halftime, headlined by 11 points from Okongwu.

After a reasonable first half, the third quarter was a genuine house of horrors for the Hawks. Memphis opened with a 9-3 run, taking a nine-point lead and, after a bit of a lull, the Grizzlies then scored 10 points in approximately 70 seconds to break things wide open. That spurt put the Hawks in a 21-point hole that they would never recover from, and Atlanta trailed by as many as 26 points in the third quarter.

Statistically, it was unsightly for Atlanta to say the least. The Grizzlies scored 110 points in the first three quarters, including 43 points on 65 percent shooting in the third period alone. Some of that can certainly be traced back to the injury absences for the Hawks — and the Grizzlies were red-hot — but it was not an ideal defensive showing.

The Hawks trailed by 25 points with 9:27 remaining, leaving a nearly impossible task to pull off a comeback. Atlanta kept its starters on the floor until the 4:04 mark before emptying the bench with game out of reach.

Bogdanovic led the team with 24 points on 9-of-20 shooting and 4-of-8 from three, with Young adding 14 points and 11 assists. Okongwu set new career-highs with 13 points and a team-leading 11 rebounds.

The Hawks will enjoy a day off on Thursday before hosting the Chicago Bulls at 8:00 pm ET on Friday at State Farm Arena.

Stay tuned.

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