Hawks Fire On All Cylinders, Young Downs Spurs in Final Seconds
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Story by KL Chouinard
Taurean Prince set the nets on fire in the first quarter. Alex Len attacked the rim all evening after setting picks to free his teammates. Jeremy Lin played his best game as a Hawk. And rookie Trae Young closed the door on the San Antonio Spurs with an astounding shot.
After a back-and-forth affair that saw both teams exchange field goals and leads late in the fourth quarter, Young brought the ball up the court in the final seconds with the game tied at 127.
To say that Young was standing on the 'GT' logo when he launched his game-winner would be factually incorrect. Technically, he was standing on the unpainted negative space inside the logo. The closest official basketball line to where he stood was the jump-ball circle at midcourt. The distance did not matter; Young swished the shot with 2.2 seconds left, and the Hawks finished the home portion of their preseason schedule with two wins in two games in Georgia Tech's McCamish Pavilion.
"We were going to run a quick pick and then make a quick read," Young said of the playcall for the game-winner. "If someone was open, I would have found them. I had a good look at it."
Prince made 9 of his 11 shots, including his first six field goal attempts in the first quarter, to lead the Hawks with 25 points.
"TP got us going right in the first quarter," head coach Lloyd Pierce said afterward of Prince, who scored 16 in the first quarter to keep the Hawks within striking distance of the Spurs. "It was as good as I've seen him play. It was all simple plays, nothing hard, nothing tough."
Alex Len hit a three from behind the top of the key to give the Hawks an 11-point lead midway through the final quarter. Then Rudy Gay and Bryn Forbes dragged the Spurs back ahead by combining for 12 points in a span of just 3 minutes.
Prince checked back in with 2:22 left and promptly hit a corner three that gave the Hawks a lead that the Spurs could never wrestle back from Atlanta.
"The great ones play like I did in the first (quarter) throughout the whole game," Prince said. "I'm getting better at it."
Young finished with 22 points, 7 assists and 2 steals against just 1 turnover. Len registered 16 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists.
Young and Len worked together in the pick and roll to ignite a Hawks' offense that scored 68 points in the second half, including 17 from Young, who scored on several floaters in the paint.
"I give credit to Alex Len more than the shot," Pierce said. "It's the spacing. Alex gets behind the defense. The (defensive) big is continually retreating, and Trae is just making the right read. If the big steps up, he's got a lob over the top. But Alex putting pressure behind the defense allows Trae to get in the paint."
The backcourt bench combination of Lin and DeAndre' Bembry combined for 24 points on 11 for 15 shooting. Lin joked about a shot that he blocked in the second half, another sign that he is re-adjusting to the NBA aft
"I'm not going to lie," Lin said with a big smile, "It's one of those things where you thought you got really high, and then you watch the replay and you're like, 'Man, it didn't look nearly as cool as I thought it would.' I thought I was at the rim. No, I was at the backboard – the bottom of the backboard. But hey, I was there, right? That was something I couldn't do just last week."
In the end, like a number of his teammates, Lin came back to the fact that Young sealed the win on a 30-foot shot.
"His mindset is incredible," Lin said of Young. "It's something that everybody can see. To have no fear and take that shot, you're got to respect that. I'm kind of like, 'Man, I can't believe he shot it from that far.' It was really cool. It was such a unique game, and for it to end like that was awesome."