ATLANTA (AP) —Trae Young scored 24 points, rookie De’Andre Hunter added 18 and the Atlanta Hawks snapped a 10-game losing streak with a 104-79 win over the Golden State Warriors on Monday night in a matchup of teams with the worst records in the NBA.
The Warriors (4-18) finished with a season-low in points. It was the lowest point total allowed by the Hawks (5-16).
Golden State dressed just nine players, even with center Kevon Looney returning to action after missing 19 games with a nerve condition.
Rookie Eric Paschall led Golden State with 24 points, but his teammates combined to shoot 24 of 72, and the Warriors were slowed by 25 turnovers, which the Hawks converted into 25 points. The Warriors were missing Draymond Green, DeAngelo Russell and Stephen Curry, among others.
The Hawks expanded a nine-point halftime lead to 76-53 in the third quarter when Vince Carter hit a 3-pointer with 1:09 left in the period.
Golden State carried the action over most of the first quarter. But Hunter rallied the Hawks, scoring six consecutive points early in the second quarter, giving Atlanta the lead for good on a pair of jumpers and a couple free throws.
Hunter scored 13 of his 18 points in the first half. He left the game midway through the fourth quarter with what appeared to be a wrist injury.
Hawks’ John Collins suspended 25 games for growth hormone
John Collins of the Atlanta Hawks has been suspended without pay for twenty-five games for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program by testing positive for Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide-2 (GHRP-2), it was announced today by the NBA.
Collins’ suspension will begin with tonight’s game between the San Antonio Spurs and the Atlanta Hawks.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Collins statement to ESPN: "First I want to apologize to my teammates, the Hawks organization, our fans, partners and community as a whole for this situation. I understand the impact this matter has on what we are trying to achieve together this season, and I am incredibly …"
"…frustrated and disappointed in myself for putting all us in this position. I have always been incredibly careful about what I put in my body, but I took a supplement, which unbeknownst to me, had been contaminated with an illegal component. I plan to appeal my suspension…" https://t.co/DaNjSEgRrr
Practically all athletes who test positive say they didn’t know they took a banned substance. Practically all appeals go nowhere.
At this point, Collins’ statement looks boilerplate and shouldn’t be taken seriously without far more evidence.
Unlike Ayton, who tested positive for a diuretic (a masking agent), Collins tested positive for the hard stuff. That definitely ought to raise more eyebrows. Jodie Meeks also got suspended for growth hormone last year.
This will cost Collins $610,582 of his $2,686,560 salary. That’s a significant setback for a former No. 19 pick still on his rookie-scale contract. Collins (No. 24 on our list of top 50 players in 5 years) will have a chance for a major payday with a contract extension next offseason. But he’ll have to reestablish himself after returning from this suspension.
In the meantime, Atlanta will rely more on Jabari Parker at power forward. Parker has shown nice early pick-and-roll chemistry with Trae Young, who’s driving the Hawks. But if Young and Collins invited defensive questions, Young and Parker practically scream for help on that.
Vince Carter and De'Andre Hunter can play behind Parker. However, both Carter and Hunter were already getting minutes at small forward. So, Collins’ absence will trickle up the depth chart and weaken Atlanta’s wing depth.
Three Things to Know: Warriors go small to earn first win of young season
Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.
1) Warriors go small to earn first win of young season. For the past five years, whenever the Warriors felt their backs were against the wall, coach Steve Kerr would go small: Move Draymond Green to center, then trust Stephen Curry and friends could shoot their way out of any problem.
After two ugly losses to start the season — both by double digits, having given up 261 points total in those games — Steve Kerr decided to go small, put Draymond Green at center, and trust Stephen Curry and friends could shoot their way out of this slow start.
The Warriors raced out early and never looked back on Monday night against New Orleans. While the defense is still an issue, Curry had 26 points and hit four threes, Green had a triple-double, D’Angelo Russell had 24 points, and Damion Lee added 23 off the bench as the Warriors outscored the Pelicans 134-123 to pick up their first win of the season.
The threes fell for the Warriors — 14-of-35 (40 percent) — which was a big change from their earlier games. New Orleans also didn’t have anyone who could make the Warriors pay for having Green at the five. The result was a blowout where the Warriors led by 30 at one point.
“We’re still not a very good team,” Green said, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “We have a lot of room for improvement. Just because we won one game doesn’t mean that we don’t suck. We still have a lot of improvement.”
“There’s a level of intensity we got to, a level of energy that we hadn’t seen in the first two games,” Kerr added. “I thought it was more confusion on our young guys kind of trying to figure out where to be rather than lack of effort. When you’re thinking too much, it’s tough to just let it go and play. Tonight, I felt like we just played. Our guys didn’t think too much.”
The Pelicans drop to 0-4 with the loss, and their defense has been dreadful (116 net rating so far this young season, second-worst in the league). Granted, no Jrue Holiday for this game, and Jahlil Okafor is the starting center, but this team simply has not been able to get a stop. The return of Zion Williamson (likely not until around Christmas) is not going to change that.
2) Chris Paul returns to Houston, where it’s quickly evident why Rockets traded him for Russell Westbrook. While this was a homecoming of sorts — Chris Paul did play for the Rockets for a couple of years — this game didn’t really feel emotional that way. It certainly didn’t pack the emotional punch of what will come Jan. 9 when Russell Westbrook has to return to Oklahoma City, where he played for 11 years. That’s a homecoming game.
This one had Chris Paul saying he still talks with P.J. Tucker every day, and Russell Westbrook giving Billy Donovan a big hug and slapping him on the but before the game, but it didn’t feel that intense (some reporters said it felt more so when Westbrook went into the OKC locker room after the game to see friends).
What this game turned out to be is a reminder of why the Rockets traded Paul for Westbrook.
Westbrook had 21 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists, impacting the game with his aggressiveness and willingness to push the ball. CP3 finished with a respectable 15-5-4 line, but the impact is just not the same.
James Harden put up 40 points and got to the line all night. Together, Westbrook and Harden were too much for OKC and the Rockets won 116-112.
Credit the scrappy Thunder for keeping it close. Houston put up 39 in the third to take an 11 point lead, but Oklahoma City fought back and kept it close down to the end. It took a Tucker three and some clutch free throws from Harden to keep the Thunder at bay. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dennis Schroder each had 22 for OKC, while Danilo Gallinari added 17.
Houston is simply not consistent defensively and that is going to catch up with them at some points this season (and in the postseason). However, most nights, the combination of Harden and Westbrook can cover that up with energy and scoring. That will be put to a better test as they head out for 6-of-7 on the road coming up.
3) 76ers length eventually swallows up Trae Young, Atlanta, and Philadelphia remains undefeated. This was simply one of the more interesting Xs and Os matchups of the night: How would the length and defensive intensity of Philadelphia handle a red-hot Trae Young averaging 38.5 points per game and shooting better than 50 percent from three in his first two games?
Early on, it looked like Young might have his way. He had 13 first-quarter points on 4-of-7 shooting with a couple made threes, and the Hawks as a team put up 40 points and shot 57.7 percent.
It didn’t last. Philadelphia threw a steady diet of Josh Richardson and Matisse Thybulle at Young, being aggressive with denying him the ball — even doubling him in the backcourt — and being physical with him when he had the ball. The 76ers didn’t give him room to breathe.
It worked. Young wore down. He shot 3-of-13 the rest of the way for 12 points. It’s dangerous to focus that much attention on Young because he’s such a good passer, but the length and aggressiveness of the Philly defense behind those doubles made it all work — the rest of the Hawks shot just 18-of-45 (40 percent) in the final three quarters and hit just three shots from beyond the arc in that whole time.
Atlanta still hung around because no Sixers outside of Joel Embiid — 31 points on 16 shots, plus 13 rebounds — was scoring that efficiently, and Embiid continues to struggle some with double teams. But at least Embiid was making plays.
This was a game where the Sixers had to play without Mike Scott in the second half after he was given a Flagrant 2 and ejected for this foul on Atlanta’s Damian Jones late in the first half.
That is not worthy of an ejection. It’s debatable if that is a Flagrant 1 foul, but it’s not close to an ejection-worthy Flagrant 2. The league needs to rescind it.
Back to the game itself…
It took a 15-5 run by Philadelphia in the final five minutes to get the win.
Atlanta had a chance to tie on the final play of the game, but again great ball denial of Young forced it to be Vince Carter who took the running three, and that didn’t work.
Once again, the Sixers defense bailed them out, but their 20th ranked offense has to get better if they are going to be a real threat when the games really matter.
Hawks show even more commitment to rebuilding their way
NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.
The Hawks put two players on All-Rookie teams then had two top-10 picks in the following draft.
What a way to get a rebuild rolling.
But like last year, Atlanta’s high-draft maneuvering leaves plenty of room for second-guessing.
Last year, the Hawks traded No. 3 pick Luka Doncic to the Mavericks for No. 5 pick Trae Young and a future first-rounder. That deal and another losing season gave Atlanta the Nos. 8 and 10 picks in this year’s draft.
The Hawks wanted De'Andre Hunter, who probably wasn’t falling that far. So, they paid a premium to get him. Atlanta traded the Nos. 8, 17 and 35 picks and a potential future first-rounder and took Solomon Hill‘s burdensome contract for the No. 4 pick (Hunter) and a late second-rounder or two.
That’s generally too much to trade up from No. 8 to No. 4. Hunter doesn’t impress me enough for that to be an exception. That said, his defense and complementary offense should fit well between reigning All-Rookie teamers Young and Kevin Huerter and 2018 All-Rookie second-teamer John Collins.
At No. 10, the Hawks took Cameron Reddish. That’s fine value there, and he’s another wing who should fit well if he develops.
The only other team in the modern-draft era (since 1966) with two All-Rookie selections and two top-10 picks in the same year was the 2000 Bulls. They had Rookie of the Year Elton Brand and All-Rookie second-teamer Ron Artest (now Metta World Peace). Then, Chicago got No. 4 pick Marcus Fizer and No. 8 pick Jamal Crawford in the draft.
But the Bulls languished for several more years. There are no guarantees in rebuilds.
Part of Chicago’s problem: The 2000 draft was historically weak. Fizer was a bust, and Crawford has had a fine sub-star career. But there were no great options available.
Atlanta might face the same issue. This draft looks poor after the first couple picks. It might have been the wrong year to have two high selections. However, we’re often terrible at assessing overall draft quality in the present. Time will tell on this draft.
Another Bulls problem: They lacked direction. Just a year later, they traded Brand for an even younger Tyson Chandler, the No. 2 pick in the 2001 draft out of high school. Later that season, they traded Artest in a package for veteran Jalen Rose.
It seems the Hawks won’t have that problem. They appear fully committed to their vision.
General manager Travis Schlenk took over in 2017. Atlanta was coming off 10 straight postseason appearances, only one year removed from a playoff-series victory and just two years removed from a 60-win season.
Now, only DeAndre’ Bembry remains from the roster Schlenk inherited just two years ago. The last two players to go, Taurean Prince and Kent Bazemore, got moved this summer.
The Hawks traded Prince and took Allen Crabbe‘s undesirable $18.5 million expiring contract to get the Nets’ No. 17 pick and a lottery-protected future first-rounder. That’s solid value for Atlanta. The Hawks clearly didn’t want to make a decision on Prince, whom Schlenk never selected and who’s up for a rookie-scale contract extension.
In a more curious decision, Atlanta traded Bazemore to the Trail Blazers for Evan Turner. Bazemore is better than Turner. Both players are similarly aged and paid on expiring contracts. The Hawks will seemingly use Turner as their backup point guard, a position he can handle better than Bazemore. But there were real backup point guards available in free agency. Unless this was just a favor to get Bazemore to a better team, I don’t get it.
At least the trade probably won’t affect Atlanta long-term.
Signing Vince Carter to a minimum deal also probably won’t matter.
Getting Jabari Parker on a two-year, $13 million deal with a player option might mean a little more. But I’m not convinced it’ll mean much. Parker just hasn’t found traction since two ACL tears. He has shown flashes and is just 24. There’s at least a small chance this works out.
Another likely low-consequence move: Trading Omari Spellman to the Warriors for Damian Jones and a future second-rounder. Teams rarely give up on a first-rounder as quickly as the Hawks did Spellman, the No. 30 pick last year. Jones is entering the final year of his rookie-scale contract and hasn’t gotten healthy yet in his career. The distant second-rounder is probably the prize. I somewhat trust the team that had a chance to evaluate Spellman’s approach first-hand all of season. Atlanta also got a replacement developmental center in No. 34 pick Bruno Fernando.
Fernando might even play behind Alex Len and John Collins, who will get minutes at power forward. Center is thin after the Hawks lost Dewayne Dedmon to the Kings.
It’s too soon for the Hawks to concern themselves with that, though. They’re still assembling a young core. It’s OK if every piece is not yet placed.
Meandering around the edges was fine and forgettable. Reddish and Hunter were the important pickups. The big bet this summer was on Hunter, and I just found the cost too steep.
Offseason grade: C-
Report: Vince Carter signs with Hawks for record-breaking 22nd season
This will be Carter’s 22nd season – most in NBA history. He’ll break a tie with Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Willis and Robert Parish. If he plays on or past Jan. 26, Carter would also become the first 43-year-old to play in the NBA since Willis in 2007.
Carter’s longevity is incredible. I wrote about it four years ago, and he’s still going!
An amazing athlete in his prime, Carter has remained in excellent shape. He has transitioned into a stretch four late in his career. He’s strong enough to defend opposing bigs, and his outside shooting/mobility are positives at power forward.
But if that if that young group is ahead of schedule, Carter could help Atlanta compete for the playoffs next season. If it takes a little longer, Carter can provide veteran mentorship in the meantime.