Kevin Huerter proved the Atlanta Hawks have more than one rookie capable of taking over a game with his shooting.
Perhaps most encouraging to the rebuilding Hawks’ future was how Trae Young responded to his cold shooting – and Huerter’s hot touch.
Huerter scored 17 of his 27 points in the second quarter, taking the scoring load from Young, and the Hawks beat the New Orleans Pelicans 128-116 on Sunday.
Young had five of his 10 assists in the fourth quarter as the Hawks protected their lead.
Young, who had the first triple-double by a rookie in Hawks history in Saturday’s loss to Brooklyn, missed his first nine shots from the field before finally scoring on a follow shot early in the fourth period. Young had 10 points while shooting only 2 of 14.
”I play in the toughest league for basketball. Not every night can be my night,” Young said.
Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said it’s crucial for Young to understand when he has to focus on setting up points for others when his shot isn’t falling.
”He came in the fourth quarter and played 12 straight minutes and shifted to just a playmaker,” Pierce said. ”I think it’s a sign of maturity. I think he’s going to have those games from time to time and understand he can still impact a game.”
Across the way at @StateFarmArena, the @ATLHawks beat the @PelicansNBA 128-116. @KevinHuerter had 27, leading Atlanta. They’re back on the court Wednesday against the @memgrizz! #TrueToAtlanta #TheAtlantaVoice— The Atlanta Voice (@theatlantavoice) March 11, 2019
Huerter has been overshadowed by Young in Atlanta’s rookie class, though both are starters. Huerter, a streaky 3-point shooter, finished two points shy of matching his career-high 29 points.
”My teammates started finding me,” Huerter said. ”They started running plays for me almost every possession down the court.”
John Collins had 23 points and 10 rebounds for Atlanta, which snapped a three-game losing streak. Collins blocked four shots.
Frank Jackson and Julius Randle each scored 23 points for the Pelicans, who have lost three straight while falling further out of the Western Conference playoff race. Elfrid Payton had 15 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.