Hawks' Trae Young sends pointed message to Rockets' Dillon Brooks

Trae Young had some choice words for Dillon Brooks after the Atlanta Hawks fended off a second-half surge by the Houston Rockets to get a win.
Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young and Houston Rockets forward Dillon Brooks
Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young and Houston Rockets forward Dillon Brooks / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks had time for the Houston Rockets.

A revamped Rockets squad gave them all they could handle. But the Hawks managed to outlast their Western Conference foe for a 134-127 win on December 20. Still, there were some explosive moments in this contest, particularly from admitted agitator Dillon Brooks.

The former Memphis Grizzlies swingman has never been shy about using his allotment of fouls, and he even tried baiting Hawks star Trae Young several times throughout the night.

“I'm not afraid to let guys be physical with me. But I'm also smart enough to know I'm going to let that physicality be used to my advantage too,” Young said via the team. “I ain't got time to play around with you. That's what he does on defense, and I got a job to do on both ends. So it's a little bit different in our roles.”

Young finished with 30 points on 55.6% shooting including 5-for-8 from beyond the arc.

He also dished out 14 assists (to four turnovers), snagged four rebounds, and had one steal. He extended his streak of 30-point, 10-assists games to five, putting him in exclusive company.

Young became the first player to lead the league in total points and assists in the same season since Hall-of-Famer Oscar Robertson in the 1960s. The Hawks star also led the NBA in total assists last season.

As for Brooks, he made it through the entire contest, finishing with five fouls, one of which included making contact with Onyeka Okongwu in a sensitive area.

But Rockets head coach Ime Udoka had to restrain him from overdoing it with the officials at least once during the contest.

The league office fined Brooks and Udoka – who were ejected – for criticizing the officiating in their last game, a 135-130 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, perhaps showing a trend for the Houston franchise.

Trae Young name-drops Hawks teammates: ‘Hate to keep bringing it up’

Young was asked what it says about the team’s growth that they were able to withstand surrendering a 20-point lead, something that would have been disastrous in the past.

“I hate to keep bringing it bringing it up. But that's where guys like Jalen [Johnson] being out is tough. Because guys are put in different roles, in different positions that they're not used to being in,” Young said. “Imagine Saddiq coming off the bench, being one of the best scorers in the game coming off the bench. He would help us so much.

“He's in the starting lineup out there and he's kind of having to to find his rhythm … We have a lot of guys who can score so it's sometimes tough for Saddiq to to get going. But imagine him coming off the bench and what he could do for us, and in that rhythm.”

Young did insist that the Hawks would be better in the third quarters of games going forward. The Hawks rank ninth in average third-quarter points but they are allowing the seventh-most points in the frame this season.

Getting Johnson back for his defense alone should help some. He was cleared to return to team practices before the win over Houston.

But it is an ongoing issue and a dangerous way to live for a team that is still three games below .500 despite winning three of their last four outings.

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