Hawks HC gets honest about Blazers' Deandre Ayton after 'tough loss'

The short-handed Atlanta Hawks suffered another signature defeat at the hands of Deandre Ayton and the Portland Trail Blazers.

Atlanta Hawks center Bruno Fernando and Portland Trail Blazers center Deandre Ayton
Atlanta Hawks center Bruno Fernando and Portland Trail Blazers center Deandre Ayton / Alika Jenner/GettyImages

The Atlanta Hawks (29-36) fell to 2.5 games behind the Chicago Bulls for ninth place in the Eastern Conference standings and a home game in the first round of the Play-In Tournament with their 106-102 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Fortunately for the Hawks, the Brooklyn Nets have been unable to capitalize, leaving the former with a 2.5-game lead for 10th place and the final spot in the Play-In. But 

That doesn’t negate the troubling aspects of the loss, namely their latest third-quarter meltdown.

After the game, Head Coach Quin Snyder addressed that and the outburst of Blazers star big man Deandre Ayton, who finished the game with 33 points on 15-for-20 shooting with 19 rebounds, one assist, one block, and one steal.

“A bunch of their guys made shots as well from three, and he was really good,” Snyder told reporters on March 13. “He made contested mid-range shots. And normally those are shots that when they're contested, they're going to make some of them. But … it's hard to account for 15-for-20.”

“He made contested shots coming off pindowns. He made shots,” Snyder said. “But I felt like … they got hot. And we didn't have a ton of breakdowns. They were attacking us off the dribble as well.

“On the offensive end when they went zone we had some looks that we missed, and we did a few things to kind of adjust to it and kind of came out of it.

“Down the stretch, we had have make some plays.”

The Hawks grew their lead to 16 points in the first half only to see the Blazers cut it to five points by halftime. The Hawks were outscored 35-23 in the third quarter, with Ayton going for 10 points on a perfect 5-for-5 shooting.

Hawks' injuries glaring in loss to Blazers

Already an undersized team, the Hawks were also without Onyeka Okongwu, Jalen Johnson, and Saddiq Bey in the frontcourt.

De’Andre Hunter had one rebound in over 32 minutes off the bench.

Clint Capela and Bruno Fernando combined to snag 20 boards, underscoring just how dominant Ayton was on the glass and in the game in general. The Hawks’ big men combined to score 19 points.

It wasn’t just Ayton, though. Teammate Anfernee Simons finished with a team-high 36 points, scoring 20 points after halftime.

Ayton and Simons’ combined efforts outdid Dejounte Murray’s 40-point showing.

“Obviously a tough loss,” Snyder said. “We came out of the game, I thought, playing very well. And you knew they were going to find a groove and start making some shots. But they made a lot of them.”

The Hawks had just two other players hit double figures – Trae Young is also sidelined – with Murray shooting 6-for-13 from deep compared to 8-for-26 from the rest of the team.

Now 13-19 on the road, the Hawks still have four more contests on this trip.