By Timothy Parker
For the first time since November 3rd, the Atlanta Hawks won a basketball game. They ended their 10 game losing streak, with a 124-123 victory over the Hornets at State Farm Arena on Sunday night.
“A lot of happiness on (the players) faces,” coach Lloyd Pierce said. “This is the feeling we want to have.”
Trae Young, shared the same sentiment, saying, the locker room’s “mood was energized,” after ending their near-month long skid.
But the win didn’t come easy. The Hawks had to stop one of the NBA’s leading scorers, Kemba Walker, in the game’s final seconds.
Walker drove in the lane with 4.6 seconds left to play, looking for the winning bucket, but instead was rejected by John Collins as time expired.
“We all knew 100 percent the ball was coming to Kemba on the inbound,” Collins said. “He ended up going for the floater and I timed it perfectly and got the game-winning block.”
The game’s other hero, Kent Bazemore, said “John Collins saved the day. If he doesn’t get that block, we’re probably not talking about (the win).”
It was Bazemore (now coming off the bench) who gave the Hawks the one point lead, with a gigantic layup the previous possession, in what was a see-saw of a fourth quarter.
“Baze giving up that starting spot, and being the team guy and professional… for him to make that game-winning basket, that’s what it’s all about,” Pierce said.
Collins (who is finally off of minutes restrictions) came up huge, leading the Hawks with 23 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, and the victory saving block. He had three major dunks down the stretch which jolted the team.
Pierce said he wanted Collins’ “mind and his spirit to be free and just play out there with all his athleticism and effort and energy.”
The first year head coach particularly enjoyed the pick and roll action between the young anchors of the Hawks future, Collins, and Young, who had 18 points and five assists.
“Me and John have a connection,” Young said. “He knows when I’m going to throw it… he knows when it’s coming. It’s fun playing with a guy like him.”
Things did not start off well for the Hawks. They gave up 43 points in the first quarter, and trailed by 11.
“We were just over-helping, and we corrected some of those mistakes. I don’t think it was lack of effort, said Pierce.” “I think we were trying to do a little too much.”
Offensively, the team flowed as a unit. Six Hawks scored in double-figures, with five of them scoring 16 or more.
“That’s just the team that we are. Everyone’s going to be able to score, be able to shoot. That’s what we need to do to get wins,” added DeAndre Bembry, who set a career-high in points (16) for a second straight game.
The Hawks now go on the road for three straight, including another date with the Hornets. They return home on December 3rd, to face the juggernaut that is the Golden State Warriors.
This article originally appeared in the Atlanta Voice.