The Atlanta Hawks continued to roll with seven players scoring in double-figures in the 123-107 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on November 4. Two of them logged double-doubles, including Jalen Johnson who recorded his first of the season.
And yet it was De’Andre Hunter – finished with four points on the night – who drew the praise of head coach Quin Snyder in his postgame media availability.
“I thought DeAndre, what Dre did tonight, put it on the front page,” Snyder said after the game via the team. “I mean he came out, I don’t know what he did to his thumb or his pinky, whatever. It happened, he was out, and when he came back, the defensive job that he did was phenomenal. And it really gave our team a lift as well.”
Hunter was handling the ball in the first quarter when the injury happened.
Pelicans guard CJ McCollum ripped the ball out of Hunter’s hand, dislocating the Hawks wing’s pinky in the process. Hunter went back to the locker room right away but did return to the game and helped get the big win.
He still had five rebounds and dished out an assist in the contest. But it does snap his streak of games with at least 15 points at four.
He had two streaks of at least that many games last season. But the bigger question is what this means for his scoring going forward. The Hawks were beneficiaries of big games from Johnson and Onyeka Okongwu while Clint Capela also tallied 17 points. But Atlanta has needed Hunter’s scoring as much as his defense this season.
Hunter was averaging 18.0 points and shooting 40.3% from beyond the arc entering the night.
After the game, he is still averaging a career-high, though the season-low output dropped his average to 15.7 points per game. His three-point efficiency improved, though, rising to 41.4% after he was 1-for-2 versus New Orleans.
“We need each other,” Snyder said. “And we need individual performances like we had tonight from Hunt – I thought JJ as well. But then we need Clint coming over to help.”
Onyeka Okongwu stretches the floor in Atlanta Hawks win
Last season, Okongwu teased us with his expanding range, attempting 13 shots from three-point range. He connected on just four of them, but it was an encouraging development nonetheless. This preseason, Okongwu gave us a little bit more with a helping hand from the Hawks coaches who started him at power forward for one game — versus the Pelicans, at that.
But he was 0-for-3 this season through five games, having yet to find his range. That was until he faced the Pelicans, connecting on two of his three looks from downtown, and in back-to-back fashion.
The Hawks have had to overcome double-digit deficits in each of the last three contests.
That is a dangerous way to live. But it does show a level of resolve that this team rarely showed last season.