The Atlanta Hawks seized control of their matchup in a 129-107 win over the Detroit Pistons in the third quarter thanks in large part to their defense. But head coach Quin Snyder liked what he saw from Onyeka Okongwu on offense well before that.
“O was great,” Snyder said in a video on Jameelah Johnson’s atlhawksfans channel on YouTube on March 21. “There was a play in the first half where he got an offensive rebound and kicked it right out. Those are shots that you make at a high percentage when your teammate’s taking care of you.”
Okongwu finished with just seven points but he did snag eight reboounds with seven of them coming on the offensive glass.
There were two plays that fit most of Snyder’s description.
The first came with just over four minutes on the clock. Okongwu grabbed the board and found De’Andre Hunter near the corner but his three-pointer was off. On the other, Okongwu again snagged the rebound only to find Saddiq Bey at the top of the key for a triple and that assist.
“It’s a selfless play,” Snyder said. “Particulalry for your bigs too oftentimes they could be in situations – putting pressure on the rim, doing a lot – they may not get as many touches. So when they get an offensive rebound, to have the presence of mind to pass the ball out when somebody’s open, its’s great.
“If they can finish, we want them to finish too. But I thought that play really stood out in my mind.”
The seven offensive boards are not even a season-high for Okongwu who has reached that mark three other times this season. He recorded nine offensive rebounds in a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on March 13.
De’Andre Hunter got a shout out from Quin Snyder after Atlanta Hawks win
“Hunt, especially from the very beginning of the game, I thought he really used his physicality and his size to impact the ball where people could…feel us defensively,“ Snyder said of what keyed their third-quarter defensive turnaround that saw them grow their seven-point halftime lead into a 21-point chasm by the end of the period. “
Snyder commended his team for their improved physicaltiy on the defensive end also noting Bogdan Bogdanovic and Trae Young’s efforts by name. But Hunter made up for what was lackluster offense after the opening frame.
He scored 10 of his 12 points in the first 12 minutes on 4-of-6 shooting. Hunter wound up taking just five more shots the rest of the game missing all of them.
“You can break a game open on [the defensive] end of the floor as much as anything,” Snyder said. “You don’t necessarily have to score, outscore, trade [baskets]. I mean, I though our focus during that stretch was really good. And usually it happens where you’re rewarded on the other end of the floor.”
Hunter did grab five of his six rebounds after the first quarter, finding other ways to contribute. He has also recorded double-digit points in 11 straight contests.