I took in last night’s TNT doubleheader featuring the Miami Heat, Atlanta Hawks, Denver Nuggets, and New Orleans Pelicans. Here are my thoughts.
The Atlanta Hawks‘ 106-97 home loss to the Miami Heat made the obvious even more apparent: Trae Young is their engine. Atlanta really felt his absence in this second game of this home-and-home series with Miami.
There was very little rhythm to the offense, as the Hawks shot 40.9 percent from the field and 20.6 percent (7-for-34) from the 3-point line. The rookies couldn’t pick up the slack, as Cam Reddish (who started at point guard) and DeAndre Hunter went a combined 3-of-20 from the field. Talk about growing pains.
However, DeAndre Bembry did what he could to keep the team afloat. He reeled off 18 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists, and two steals. I like Bembry, and he has really been an underrated part of a Hawks team that is focused on the growth of the rookies and Trae and John Collins. He’s only 25, so he could very well be on the verge of breaking out. Keep an eye on him.
For Miami, Kendrick Nunn was at it again. He dropped 28 points (his career-high. For now.) helped him secure the record for most points by an undrafted player through his first five games. While impressive on its own, it should also be noted how efficiently he completed this feat. Nunn racked up his total on 10-of-15 shooting, including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc.
Washington Wizards guard Isaiah Thomas wondered on Twitter how a player so talented could go undrafted in the first place. Well…..there’s a pretty dark reason why teams were hesitant to bring him in at first. But it seems that Nunn is making the most of this second chance, so good for him. I’m a little worried that this hot start is just a Ronald Murray or Jeremy Lin type of episode. But I suppose that means we should just enjoy this ride as long as it lasts.
Meanwhile, the New Orleans Pelicans blitzed the Denver Nuggets 122-107. It was a mainly a matter of the Pelicans controlling things from the outset. It was the fifth-fastest team in the league hosting the slowest. So the home team kept running, with both teams racking up 103 possessions each. On top of that, New Orleans also made eight more 3-pointers and nine more free throws than Denver.
I’m so glad Brandon Ingram is getting the opportunity to come into his own. He dropped 25 points on the night, and is currently averaging 26.8 per game. I was expecting some of this production in Los Angeles, but I guess the LeBron drama and subpar coaching wasn’t conducive to his growth. It’s good to see him in a system that lets him run and shoot more.
Lastly, I just want to throw out that Jahlil Okafor dropped a game-high 26 points with Nikola Jokic as his positional opponent. That made me go hmmmm…..