Game 4 Recap: The Lou Williams Game
KL Chouinard @KLChouinard
At some point, it's worth taking a step back to acknowledge what the Hawks have done during this postseason run.
Won a series against the Knicks. Took another series from the Sixers. Clawed and scratched their way to a 2-2 series tie with the Bucks on a night when Trae Young could not play. For a team that missed the postseason last season, it is an impressive and improbable feat.
Every win seems to have a different hero. Kevin Huerter scores 27 in Game 7 vs. Philly. Trae Young drops 48 in Game 1 vs. the Bucks. Lou Williams, who was making the first playoff start of his 16-year NBA career Tuesday, picked up the torch and carried it into the arena for his hometown Hawks in Game 4.
Williams, who found out that he would start about an hour before the game tipped, scored 21 points to go along with 8 assists and 5 rebounds. He only turned the ball over one time – a key when facing one of the top transition teams in the NBA – and he made 7 of his 9 shot attempts.
Lou had plenty of help on the perimeter. Bogdan Bogdanovic made six threes and played an active role in the Hawks' stingy perimeter defense. Kevin Huerter made 7 of 15 shots while registering 7 assists and 0 turnovers.
"It started with our guards," Nate McMillan said after the game. "I thought Bogi found his rhythm knocking down some shots. Kevin was really good again. It was a total team effort."
Kevin Huerter said that it was important for the Hawks to play to their individual strengths.
“You want everybody to find a rhythm,” Huerter said. “We don’t need people in transition, pulling up from the logo and offensively going one-on-one the way Trae can. It’s really not anybody’s game on this team, so we didn’t need people to play like that."
McMillan said that the offense did well to adapt in the manner that it did.
Trae does a great job of initiating offense for us when he's in the game," McMillan said. "When we go to our second unit, we have to play a different style of basketball. That has been good for us. Tonight without Trae, we had to do some different things. We got some good ball movement, and our guys were able to make them defend."
The strong performances were not limited to the starters. Cam Reddish, in his second game after a four-month absence, had 12 points and 2 steals as he continued to hound the Bucks' ball handlers at the point of attack in a way that perhaps no other Hawk could.
Rookie Onyeka Okongu also continued to impress in his minutes as the backup center. He made all three of his shots and scored 7 points. But more importantly, he showed that has the defensive tools and tenacity to guard a long, elite scorer like two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Bucks were dealt a severe blow in the third quarter when Antetokounmpo collided with Clint Capela. Antetokounmpo left the game for the locker room, and the Bucks later termed the injury a 'left knee hyper-extension' and ruled him out for the remainder of the game.
The Bucks struggled after Antetokounmpo exited, but the Hawks played stellar defense long before that. The starters, in particular, executed the game plan on a string when they had the opportunity to set up in the halfcourt after made baskets. The Hawks held the Bucks to 38 first-half points, the fewest Milwaukee has scored in any half this postseason.
The end result is that the Hawks find themselves two games from their first-ever Finals berth in Atlanta. It's worth a moment to appreciate how close they are.
Stat of the Game:
Bogdan Bogdanovic finished the game with 20 points, 5 rebounds and 4 steals. Bogdanovic now leads all NBA players in steals for this postseason: 26.
Highlight of the game:
Clint Capela tossed up a baseline turnaround at the end of the shot clock that went over the backboard – a la Larry Bird – and in.
Clint Capela was elbowed in the right eye in the fourth quarter and left the game with 3:28 remaining. Per Hawks PR, he was examined postgame by the team ophthalmologist and will be reexamined.
Quote of the game:
Lou Williams, deadpanning on how he found out that he was starting:
"Honestly, I was on the training table. Nate walked up and said, "Trae is going to be out, so I'm going to start you." I said, "OK," and he walked off. That was the conversation."
Then Williams cracked a grin.
"It's not like a 'Remember the Titans' thing. I promise you it don't. That was it. That was the extent of our conversation, and we got ready for the game."
Next game info:
The series shifts back to Milwaukee for Thursday night's Game 5. The game airs at 8:30 PM ET on TNT.
Next home game info:
With the win tonight, the Hawks guaranteed a return to State Farm Arena for Game 6 on Saturday (8:30 PM ET).