Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks are coming together at the end of what’s been a challenging season.
Young, a rookie point guard, had 33 points and 12 assists for his 24th double-double of the season, and the Hawks beat the New Orleans Pelicans 130-120 Tuesday night for their third consecutive victory.
Young finished 12 of 24 from the field, including 5 of 12 from 3-point range, and had just one turnover in 31 minutes. In the last four games, Young has averaged 26.8 points and 11.5 assists.
“Trae’s unbelievable with the basketball,” Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce said. “He’s unbelievable with the pick-and-roll, he can get downhill and he’s making the right decisions. We’ve played 75 games together now, and our spacing is great. When we know where our outlets are, then it’s easy to make the right play. He’s obviously very efficient, but it’s a testament to the guys being in the right spots all the time.”
The Hawks rely heavily on their perimeter shooting, but they missed their first six 3-point attempts against the Pelicans before making 7 of 8 in a 42-point first quarter. Young had 10 points in the quarter, including a pair of 3s.
“I’m feeling good, and my teammates honestly make me look good, too,” said Young, who was selected as the NBA Player of the Week in the East for his recent run of sterling performances. “I’m just having fun. That’s the main thing. The ball is moving, shots are falling and it’s fun.”
Young said none of his teammates got discouraged when their shots didn’t fall early.
“We’ve been down a lot, and we fought our way back into the game,” Young said. “Missing a couple of shots didn’t affect us. We wanted to keep shooting. Ultimately, we knew they were going to fall.”
DeAndre’ Bembry and Dewayne Dedmon each scored 18 points, and the Hawks shot 19 for 51 from beyond the arc.
Julius Randle led the Pelicans with 24 points and nine rebounds.
Already playing without Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans’ lineup got thinner when guard Frank Jackson, who scored 20 points in 25 minutes, went to the locker room with a concussion with 7:19 left in the third quarter. He was inadvertently hit in the forehead by John Collins while under the basket.
“It’s unfortunate for him because all these games are really important,” said Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry.
The play of recently acquired reserve forward Christian Wood was a highlight for the Pelicans. Wood had 11 points and five rebounds in 11 minutes in the first half, and finished with a career-high 23 points and six blocks.
“He has no idea what we’re doing, just to be brutally honest,” Gentry said, smiling. “We think he’s a talented guy. You can see some of the things he can do. Six blocked shots — I mean, that’s good on any level.”
Wood signed with the Pelicans on March 20 after being released by the Milwaukee Bucks.
Center Miles Plumlee will undergo arthroscopic surgery on April 2 to repair torn cartilage in his left knee. He will miss the rest of the season. Including a 42-point first quarter against the Pelicans, the Hawks have scored at least 40 points in a quarter 13 times this season, the most since 1970-71. The Hawks have led the NBA in scoring since the All-Star break (120.5) and have gone 8-9.