(Atlanta, GA) – The Atlanta Hawks got off to a pretty good start that saw Ice Trae break some records along the way in Detroit for the season opener. The youngster scored the most points in a Hawks’ season opener since Dominique Wilkins in 1986. The magic number 38…Trae-mazing to say the least.
But could the Hawks take that 1-0 record and boost it to 2-0. Fans were certainly ready for it as State Farm Arena was pretty much full.
Opening night, Trae Young had 25 points in the first half and it looked as if he was on his way to another stellar night racking up a quick 13 points in just 13 minutes of play, with 4 rebounds and 5 assists.
Offense looked smooth minus some senseless turnovers that Atlanta was surely hoping wouldn’t come back to haunt them. Good ball movement helped them find some easy buckets down low and one thing about this young Hawks’ team, once they get rolling their chemistry is tough to break-through. Quick baskets by De’Andre Hunter, Kevin Heurter, Jabari Parker and Cam Reddish helped push Atlanta up 46-42 with 3 minutes left in the 1st half.
Trae Young would return with 2:30 left in the first half and you have to keep your eyes on him or you might miss something. He ended the first half with 17 points playing just 18 minutes, the only Hawk in double digits after 2 quarters.
For Orlando, Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier and Markelle Fultz would all end the first half with 10 points each. But it wouldn’t be enough to grab the lead as the Magic went into halftime 2 down – 52-50.
Trae Young added 7 quick points as the 2nd half got underway, but a series of fouls kept giving Orlando opportunities to inch closer. Alex Len had 3 but made up for it hitting a seismic 3 from the left corner that helped the Hawks stretch it out a little bit more; but Orlando quietly moved within 4, 64-60 with 6:30 to play in the 3rd quarter.
If the Hawks were getting comfortable, Jabari Parker made sure to spark things up taking up some real estate down low and dunking on quite a few folks but a bad touch foul matched with some good acting skills by Aaron Gordon made it a 2-point game real quick. 70-68. Atlanta managed to end the 3rd quarter up 77-75, so all is fair in love and basketball.
In the 4th quarter, Batman and Robin got started as Trae lobbed one up to John Collins who jammed it in. But for every point the Hawks scored, the refs found a foul to give to Orlando and before you knew it, the Magic had the lead 80-79.
At this point, the Hawks had 20 personal fouls and 14 turnovers and that cloud was starting to form. When the home team only hits the line for 9 free throws and the visiting team has 24 + , that could certainly steal your joy and the game. 6:42 left to play and the Magic had a 5 point lead. 90-85.
Coach Pierce brought in his young boys, Young, Collins, Bembry and Parker with vet Vince Carter to regroup. Carter’s first basket would pull Atlanta within 3, 90-87 and after an offensive charge by Orlando, there was a chance to make a move. Trae Young pulls up from the belt-line draining a 3 and tying it all up 90-90.
Carter’s leadership would prove to be pivotal. And the fact that Trae Young doesn’t see anyone on the court is that kind of fierceness that will get you through the storm. With just a couple of minutes left, Atlanta forced a big turnover that would see Trae Young lob a high three that hit the glass and found its way in.
Post game, Vince said he was watching it come down and thought if it hits the back of the rim it’ll bounce back out to him. But luck was on their side this time, after being on the other side of Victory several other times, and the Hawks will take it how it comes.
As for Trae, who finished the game with 39, he’s never been afraid of the big moments and said he wanted to get off to a more powerful start in his second season in the NBA. Looks like he’s doing just that. And Coach Pierce wasn’t to upset about the fouls. He said anytime you can get 60 in the paint, you can live with it. Final Score 103-99.
Up next, the Hawks will host the 76ers on Monday while the Magic will visit the Raptors.