When it seemed that their season was irreversibly complicated, the Hawks are beginning to change their dynamic. Those from Atlanta added their fifth consecutive victory this morning by defeating the Kings by 121-104, reaching 22 wins and getting closer and closer to the positions of play-in from the east. Although a very disputed fight is expected to occupy these places, McMillan’s men have managed to rejoin the fight after some very complicated weeks, and we will see if they manage to maintain this good dynamic to continue climbing positions.
Despite the fact that Sacramento began the clash with good feelings, the locals took control of it in the second quarter and left it practically sentenced to rest. With a run of 46-17, the Hawks completely overwhelmed their rival in the second set, and in the third they continued to widen the difference until they led by 30 points. McMillan’s most important men were therefore able to take a break in the final stretch of the game, in which the Kings were able to make up the score but not erase the terrible sensations left on the floor.
Those from Atlanta were largely supported by their second unit, since 70 of the local points came from the bench, and the quintet that swept Sacramento in the second quarter was mostly made up of men who started as substitutes. In fact, the local top scorers were Bogdan Bogdanovic and Onyeka Okongwu with 18 points each, both substitutes, while Lou Williams, also a member of the second unit, finished with 15. Trae Young, with 17 points and 10 assists, was the the only starter in double figures, although the players who made up the starting line-up did not have too many minutes due to the great performance of the bench and the enormous distance on the scoreboard.
“The substitutes have been the ones who have given us an important boost,” McMillan acknowledged at a press conference. “The starters have started somewhat disconnected, but when the second unit has entered the court it has reinforced our defense and has made us grow.”
The Kings, meanwhile, suffered their fifth loss in a row, and continue to be unable to engage in a fight for the title. play-in that this course is cheaper than ever. After years without reaching the postseason, the Californians this time have a unique opportunity to reach at least the preliminary round, but, as usual, they are being a hugely inconsistent team.
It is true that on this occasion they could not count on De’Aaron Fox for the third consecutive meeting, but the image offered in the last two nights does not find justification in any absence. Harrison Barnes and Davion Mitchell, with 28 and 20 points respectively, tried to save the ballot, but not even they could prevent the clash from reaching the final stretch. We’ll see if, as the Hawks seem to be doing, they can turn the tide of their season or if we’re headed for another disappointing season finale in Sacramento.
(Cover photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)