Nate McMillan explains key decision in Atlanta Hawks’ loss to BKN

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

It was never going to be easy for the Atlanta Hawks against the Brooklyn Nets. Brooklyn came into the tilt as the NBA’s hottest team having won nine straight contests. They would leave much in the same way after notching their 10th win in a row, a 108-107 survival against the hosting Hawks who were missing several starters.

Center Clint Capela missed his second game in a row with a calf injury and his fifth contest in the last six games.

Atlanta was also without De’Andre Hunter (ankle) and Trae Young (calf).

They got valiant efforts from several players with John Collins (21 points, eight rebounds) and Dejounte Murray posting a near triple-double (24 points, nine boards, and eight assists) but it fell just short.

Short-handed Atlanta Hawks show ‘fight’ in loss to BKN, says HC

“I saw fight from guys tonight,” McMillan said in his postgame media availability. And you can live with that. You can live with that. I thought, from start to finish, we stepped up and we played. We didn’t think about the guys that were out. The guys that that were playing, they came out to play and win.”

“It was that they missed and I wanted our guys to go…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.”

McMillan noted that he has opted for letting the team play through big moments such as this in the past.

“It didn’t work out for us tonight,” he said.

McMillan praised the team’s physical defense and taking care of the basketball, something that has been an issue in recent frustrating losses. But the story of this game will undoubtedly be his decision not to draw up a play in the waning moments after the Hawks had battled back from a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit to pull within one point.

A point they would have had if Murray’s first of two free throws with less than 30 seconds to go had gone in.

Instead, he missed.

Brooklyn would give the Hawks another shot at victory on Kyrie Irving missed three with nine seconds remaining. And a case can be made that there was contact on Murray’s final attempt from beyond the arc at the end of the game.

Given that Murray is not the best three-point shooter, it is fair to wonder whether or not taking a moment to manufacture a better look would have been the better option.

“They can get their defensive team out on the floor and get set in that situation. They’re scrambled, they’re trying to find a man. And, sometimes, you can find a guy open in transition like that and get a good look. Sometimes a better look than if you draw up a play.”

McMillan said Murray didn’t see anyone when he came down the floor and took what he felt was the best shot.

He also said that the officials did not address the non-call on the final shot.

Next. Hawks send strong message on Jalen Johnson. dark

The Hawks have now lost three of their last four games with two of the losses coming at home. They will host the Anthony Davis-less Los Angeles Lakers before heading out for a four-game road trip in search of some much-needed consistency.