Quin Snyder reveals spark behind Jalen Johnson’s big night after Hawks beat Bulls

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports /

On a night when the Atlanta Hawks were without Trae Young and De’Andre Hunter, they were carried by a group effort led by Bogdan Bogdanovic (26 points, 5-of-10 3P) offensively.

But no one had a greater impact on both ends than second-year forward Jalen Johnson.

“One of the things that was good to see was [Dejounte Murray] hit him in the corner and he passed up a shot,” explained head coach Quin Snyder via NBA.com after his team secured a critical 125-103 victory over the Chicago Bulls. “Dejounte got upset with him so the next time he shot it and he pointed at him, which was great.

“I think his teammates have a lot of confidence in him. He’s a basketball player and he can do a lot of things on the floor and is capable of making plays on both ends. So just want him to be instinctive and play with confidence and defend is one of the biggest things he gives us.”

Johnson finished the game with a career-high 16 points on 70% shooting from the floor and – to Snyder’s point – added four rebounds, three steals, two assists, and one block.

If there is one critique of the former 18th-overall pick, it’s that he was 1-for-3 from deep.

But it’s picking nits with all that Johnson put on display in a season that has seen him go from bench afterthought to a night where he offers a glimpse into what the future may look like for the Hawks sooner rather than later.

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For his part, Murray recorded 17 points, nine assists, three rebounds, and one steal.

On Bogdanovic – who is listed as questionable for the second leg of the back-to-back against the zombie Washington Wizards – Snyder was equally as effusive in his praise.

“His aggressiveness set a tone for our team,” Snyder said. “That was really important to us. When a team is that aggressive against you defensively, that’s the way that you have to respond. I thought he did that early by taking shots.”

Bogdanovic made just two fewer threes than the entire Bulls team.

He got the Hawks off to a great start with 11 points in the first five minutes including three of his triples.

Saddiq Bey makes big impact as Atlanta Hawks beat Chicago Bulls

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a 3-and-D guy,” Snyder said of Saddiq Bey’s contributions. “That’s a lot of time what can get you on the floor. And then, oftentimes when you’re ready to shoot and you hit a couple, you’re able to find yourself in closeout situations.”

“We emphasize for our guys a lot in the paint, ‘feet and fakes’. It doesn’t have to be pretty all the time with your finish. If you’re strong and deliberate, sometimes that’s more effective. And that’s what he was.”

Bey poured in 18 points on better than 61% shooting adding four assists, four rebounds, and one steal for good measure.

Acquired at the trade deadline for a sum of five second-round picks, Bey has been a bargain.

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He’s averaging 14.4 points, 6.9 boards, and 2.0 assists over the last eight games with three starts mixed in. While he has not shot the ball particularly well in that stretch – 45.4% FG, 32.6% 3P – he has recorded a positive plus-minus in six of those eight games while the Hawks have gone 5-3 in that span.