Atlanta Hawks star sounds off on Nate McMillan’s critical decision

Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

It was right there for the taking. The Atlanta Hawks were on the verge of snapping another win streak, this one belonging to the Brooklyn Nets who came in winners of nine straight and 13 of their last 14 outings. Instead, a series of unfortunate events resulted in Brooklyn extending their streak to 10 games and the Hawks suffer another narrow loss.

Atlanta holds a 4-3 record in one-score games this season even with this loss. But the Hawks have also lost several others in which they held leads late. They led by a game-high 15 points in the second quarter but a third-quarter Brooklyn run turned the tide.

It all came down to a Hawks possession with just six seconds to go.

Head coach Nate McMillan defended his decision not to call one of his two timeouts. But he isn’t the only one not concerned that the decision was the reason the Hawks lost.

Dejounte Murray pushes back on criticism of Atlanta Hawks HC Nate McMillan

*Dejounte Makes Both Free Throws And We Go To OT And Calling A Timeout Doesn’t Matter!!! That S*** On Me And Not On Nate SIMPLE AS THAT!!!!!!,” Dejounte Murray tweeted in response to Carl Dukes of ‘Dukes & Bell’ on 92.9 The Game in Atlanta.

Dukes asked the question that many others wondered on the night, especially since the Hawks’ last look was a Murray three – why not take a timeout? Murray finished with a team-high 28 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists. But he is a career three-point shooter knocking down a slightly better 34.7% of those looks this season.

“It was that they missed and I wanted our guys to go,” McMillan told reporters matter-of-factly. “I could have called a timeout. But that was a miss and you want to try to catch them in transition and…see if you can get down before their defense gets set.”

He added that Murray did not see anyone open and took what he felt was the best shot possible at that moment.

McMillan also praised his short-handed squad for not folding despite missing three starters. The Hawks were without Trae Young as well as Clint Capela and De’Andre Hunter leaving them without their best player and best defenders making their efforts against the surging Nets even more encouraging.

More important than shaking off this loss is being consistent in doing what kept them in the game. The Hawks played physical defense and had just three turnovers – their fewest in any game this season – to Brooklyn’s 12.

The Hawks have a daunting task ahead of them with just six of their next 20 contests coming at home in State Farm Arena.

They are just 6-11 on the road.

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Their best hope could be to simply get healthy which is something they have rarely been so far this season.