Saddiq Bey details Hawks' 'mindset' in the wake of Jalen Johnson's injury

Saddiq Bey helped key the Atlanta Hawks' win over the Cleveland Cavaliers and spoke about the team's thought process the rest of the way.

Atlanta Hawks forward Saddiq Bey
Atlanta Hawks forward Saddiq Bey / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Atlanta Hawks forward Jalen Johnson has put himself squarely in the conversation for the Most Improved Player this season.  So when he suffered a sprained ankle early in the third quarter of their eventual 112-101 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Hawks naturally suffered a bit of a lull.

“That was unfortunate for us,” Saddiq Bey told reporters of Johnson’s injury postgame on March 6. “He means so much to our team and has a great and positive impact every time he steps on the floor. So for us, it’s trying to corral after that and try to get stops down the stretch, and just try to make up for what he brings to the table.

“I think we try to do a good job of that.”

Johnson finished the game with seven points, four assists, four rebounds, and one block. Bey led all scorers with 10 points in the final 12 minutes.

He was 4-for-7 from the floor, 2-for-5 from beyond the arc, and added two rebounds and one steal. Bey finished the game tied with Bogdan Bogdanovic for the team lead with 23 points, adding eight rebounds, one block, and that steal.

Saddiq Bey credits Hawks' 'resiliency' in back-2-back clutch wins

The Hawks' 15-point halftime lead turned into an 89-87 deficit by the end of the third quarter.

“Just a lot of resiliency,” Bey said of the team's second straight clutch win. “Still trying to learn how to hold leads and extend them – even more so for us is trying to learn that. But you can learn off of a win as well. And for us it’s just our defense carried us in that … fourth quarter. So it's like how can we do that for four quarters?

“I think we did that for most of the game. It was just a stretch they came back, so it was just good that we had a lot of resiliency.”

As for his own performance, Bey was grateful above all else.

He also credited a simplistic approach and his teammates finding him for his increased volume and production around the rim. Bey also set the tone for the rest of the season for the Hawks, who have now won four of their last six games.

Hawks learning to extend leads down the stretch

“It means a lot – try to get these wins,” Bey said. “Each game matters, especially from now on. So we – everyone is trying to do whatever it takes to get the win. We looking at the film to see how we can extend and hold leads. But for us it’s, ‘Can we get a win at the end of the day?’ So I think that's the mindset.”

Each of those games has been without Trae Young. The Hawks – who are also still without Onyeka Okongwu – have to hope Johnson isn’t sidelined for another extended period.

They went 4-10 when Johnson was sidelined with a wrist injury earlier this season. Head Coach Quin Snyder said he had not received any updates on Johnson’s balky ankle, noting that any new information would be relayed quickly once available.