It unsurprisingly took a player nicknamed “Ice” to cool off the NBA’s hottest team. The Atlanta Hawks (11-7) got a big game out of Trae Young to put an end to the Sacramento Kings’ seven-game win streak. For the Hawks, the win was a nice bounceback after losing 114-102 on the road to the Cleveland Cavaliers the game before.
They are now 7-3 at home in State Farm Arena this season after going 27-14 there last season boasting the third-best record at home in the East.
This game also marked the return of former Hawks swingman Kevin Huerter who was traded this offseason for a first-round pick and salary cap relief. Before the game, John Collins and Hawks head coach Nate McMillan weighed in on Huerter.
After the game, it was Young’s turn to speak on the entire experience.
Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young got honest when discussing win over SAC
“We just pushed the ball the whole game,” Young told Bally Sports‘ Hawks reporter Lauren Jbarra. “They played at our pace today. We know they were playing last night so we wanted to make them come out here and push the pace and make them run and we got the win.”
Young scored a game-high 35 points on over 57% shooting overall and from beyond the arc with seven assists and one rebound. Last season’s total assists and total points leader had eight points in the fourth quarter.
He scored or assisted on 11 of their final 13 points scored down the stretch despite seeing a healthy dose of double teams.
“That’s my job. I’ve been doing that my whole life. I mean, I’ve been getting doubled for a long time. It’s just about making the right play…I’ve had a lot of practice at it. So now I’ve got some guys I can get it to and they can make plays too.”
The Kings’ defense has been leaky allowing the fifth-most points per game.
But they also came in boasting the NBA’s highest-scoring offense at over 120 points per game and shooting 37% from three this season, 10th in the league, only to be held 14 points below their season average and hit 30% of their triples.
The Hawks forced 13 turnovers leading to 25 points. Asked how they were so disruptive, Young was fairly matter-of-fact in how repeatable it was.
“We were active,” he said. “Our arms was wide. We was getting deflections, steals, and just getting out and running. When we do that, we’re a tough team to beat.”
Atlanta ranks 12th in defensive rating. With efforts such as the one they showed on Wednesday, it’s easy to see why. What wasn’t so easy to see, was Huerter being on the other side of the battle, Young explained.
“It’s different,” Young told Jbarra. “It’s different. I mean, I’m used to Kev being on our side. But it’s part of it. It’s part of the league. And for me – as a point guard, as a leader – I just want to see all my teammates succeed wherever they’re at. Whether it’s with me or whether they’re off somewhere else.”
Even in a different uniform, it was nothing but love for Huerter who had 13 points, five assists, and four rebounds but was “held” to 3-of-7 shooting from three.
“He’s doing really well right now,” said Young. “I was telling him that, I want him to keep going…Telling him to lead them to the playoffs.”
The Hawks still sit sixth in the East after being in third ahead of their loss to Cleveland.
This was no small win, though, and the Hawks did it in a convincing fashion giving even more optimism for this group as it continues to build chemistry.