The New Orleans Pelicans (La.) blew out the Atlanta Hawks 133-109 in an Oct. 7 game at State Farm Arena in downtown Atlanta.
Although the Pelicans eventually crushed Atlanta, the Hawks broke out in an early 13-9 lead in the first quarter. After a quick timeout, the Pelicans went on a 12-0 run to go up 21-13. Hawks center Alex Len ended the streak with a two-handed slam, and the Hawks went on a 13-0 run of their own to regain the lead, 26-21. After another timeout from New Orleans, both teams traded buckets and finished the first quarter with the Hawks leading 34-29.
The Pelicans regrouped for the second quarter, gaining a 50-46 lead in only five minutes and 21 seconds into the quarter. Although Hawks rookie forward Cam Reddish sank a three pointer to close the gap 50-49, New Orleans began a 15-2 run midway through the quarter. Eventually, the Pelicans pulled away and closed out the half with a 75-61 lead
After halftime, Jrue Holiday and Brandon Ingram exploded with 11 points each in the third quarter. Hawks guard DeAndre’ Bembry retaliated with nine points of his own, but the Pelicans were simply too much and outscored Atlanta 35-26 in the third quarter.
Entering the fourth quarter, the Hawks increased their defensive intensity, holding the Pelicans to 23 points in the fourth quarter. Despite the Hawks efforts, they struggled to create any sort of offense, scoring just 22 points in the quarter. Atlanta’s poor play on both sides of the floor, as well as the Pelican’s high scoring offense, handed New Orleans a 133-109 victory.
Although the Hawks shot 46 percent from the field and dished out 26 assists, they also committed 29 turnovers, shot 34.1 percent from three and converted only 62.5 percent of their free throws — a disappointing offensive outing. Many Hawks players struggled to find an offensive rhythm, specifically sophomore point guard Trae Young, who shot 40 percent from the field and 16.7 percent from the three-point line in addition to committing eight turnovers.
Young acknowledged his, as well as the Hawks’, slow start.
“For us, it was tough because we didn’t play how we wanted to play,” Young said. “For me, having that many turnovers was definitely tough, but I’ve got to understand that I played with a lot of new guys … We’ve got to play smarter [and] better, but that is what preseason is for.”
The Hawks performed poorly on defense as well. New Orleans shot 46 percent from the field and 37.8 percent from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, the Pelicans scored 54 points in the paint, as well as 28 second chance points and 15 fast break points. Pelicans’ guard Holiday, forward Ingram and first overall pick Zion Williamson led the way with 21 points, 19 points and 16 points, respectively.
Hawks Head Coach Lloyd Pierce was not surprised by Atlanta’s offensive and defensive struggles in their first preseason game.
“That was everything I expected,” Pierce said. “Sloppy, a lot of turnovers, high scoring, not very good defense on both sides [and] a lot of fouls.”
Atlanta lost their second preseason game to the Orlando Magic 97-88 on Oct. 9 at State Farm Arena. Despite Young’s 18 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists, the rest of the Hawks still struggled on the offensive end. Atlanta only converted 34 percent of field goals and committed an abysmal 27 turnovers. While the Hawks struggled offensively, they demonstrated an ample amount of defensive intensity. The Magic shot only 38 percent from the field, converted 29 percent from beyond the arc, and turned the ball over 18 times. Nevertheless, the Magic prevailed and the Hawks lost their second game of the 2019-2020 NBA pre-season.
The Hawks will next play the Miami Heat on Oct. 14 at 7:30 p.m in Miami.