Ten observations from Hawks 113, Suns 112

The Hawks outlasted a contested game against the Suns, 113-112, that included 24 lead changes and was tied 11 times Sunday at Philips Arena.

Here are a few observations from the Hawks’ second win in five days:

1. The Hawks won on a 3-pointer by Taurean Prince with 7.6 seconds left.

“You just imagine when you’re in your backyard or playing (NBA) 2K, things of that sort,” Prince said. “(It was a) great feeling.”

The Suns’ leading scorer Devin Booker missed a field goal as time expired while  being closely guarded by Tyler Dorsey.

“Devin Booker’s such a good player,” Hawks coach Mike Budeholzer said. “Put it in his hands, let him play one-on-one. Obviously, he’s got great explosiveness. He rises up. He got a good look, but I think Tyler’s defense and the contest, it looked like it was right on target, just a little bit long. ... It was a break for us.”

Before Sunday’s game, Budenholzer said while Prince does have the ability and aggressive to drive the ball, the team wants him out on the edge as a shooter.

Over the past two games, using Prince as a shooter as paid off. Against the Warriors on Friday, Prince shot 5 of 12 from the 3-point line and recorded 15 total points. Against the Suns, he was 6 of 8 from the 3-point range, a new career-high from behind the arc, and finished with a team-high 22 points.

The Hawks as a team shot 17 of 33 from the 3-point line and 45.7 percent from the field against the Suns.

“I thought we got good looks,” Budenholzer said. “I thought we moved the ball when we could get good looks. We actually passed up a lot I thought. I thought we for sure could have had more attempts, you don’t know whether they’ll go in or not but I’d like to see us shoot more when we’re open.”

Prince’s aggression also showed up late  when he got into an altercation with the Suns’ Josh Jackson after being called for goaltending.  After each shoved the other, they were assessed with technical fouls.

Prince said during the altercation he told Jackson “how I felt with the block and he did what he did,” but he wasn’t focused on the altercation as much as the win.

2. The Hawks’ Isaiah Taylor and the Suns’ Elfrid Payton were ejected in the altercation. The two entered the fracas after the shoves.

Taylor totaled 10 points, two rebounds, three assists and shot 4 of 6 from the field and 2 of 3 beyond the arc before his ejection.

Malcolm Delaney, who scored 12 points, also left the game in the fourth quarter due to an ankle sprain. After the game Budenholzer said he did not have an update on Delaney, but was “worried for sure.”

3. Kent Bazemore was rested and Dorsey got the start, his second . The rookie out of Oregon shot 4 of 12 from the field and 2 of 5 from beyond the arc for 12 points, five rebounds and three assists.

Bazemore was coming off a career-high 29-point game against the Warriors. 

Before the game, Budenholzer said the purpose in resting Bazemore was to keep him healthy after the eight-year veteran has averaged 27.9 minutes over 62 games, all starts.

4. Suns forward T.J. Warren shot 8 of 9 from the field for 17 second-quarter points to help the Suns tie the game at 56-56 entering halftime.

Warren was the game’s leading scorer, shooting 16 of 26 from the field for 35 points.

5. Coming off a 39-point game against the Thunder on Friday, Booker struggled in the first half. Guarded by Dorsey for most of the game, Booker shot 8 of 18 from the field and 3 of 6 beyond the arc for 20 points. He was limited to four points and had five turnovers in the first half.

6. Suns coach Jay Triano said before the game that the biggest challenge for his young team would be to control the ball when facing the aggressive Hawks defense. 

Similar to their defensive aggression over the past two games, the Hawks scored 20 points off 14 Suns’ turnovers. On Friday, the Hawks — first in the league in opponent turnovers (15.5) — scored 30 points off 18 Warriors’ turnovers. On Wednesday, the Hawks scored 31 points off 24 Pacers’ turnovers.

The Suns entered Sunday averaging 14.9 turnovers per game, tied for fifth-worst in the NBA. 

7. Jaylen Morris, who was signed to a 10-day contract by the Hawks on Wednesday, played 24 minutes. It was the most during his three games. He finished with seven points and five rebounds.

“Jaylen Morris has kind of been a jack of all trades, kind of that utility infielder for our G League team,” Budenholzer said. “When we’ve had Josh Magette or people up here, he’s had to play a few backup point guard minutes. Just to see what he’s about. Can he handle that moment and I think he’s been great.”

8. Not only did the Suns end the first half on a 9-2 run, they came out of the locker room and scored nine more points in the first 2:16 of the second half before Budenholzer called a timeout. The Hawks trailed by 12 points but closed to trail by just a point, 87-86, entering the fourth quarter.

“That was a big stretch, but the way we were defensively, the activity it didn’t feel good,” Budenholzer said. “I think the guards they weren’t doing (what they needed to do), the bigs weren’t, so you end up with a 9-2 run I guess and I though the guys responded well after the time out and went on our own run and then from there it felt like it was just a back and forth game.”

9. Dennis Schroder and Prince combined for 13 points as the Hawks took a 15-11 lead in the first 6:27. When the Suns took their first timeout, the Hawks shot 6 of 11 from the field and 3 of 5 from the 3-point line.

10. Schroder, who recorded 21 points, six rebounds and six assits left with 2:45 left in the third quarter and did not return. Budenholzer said Schroder leaving the game was not due to injury, but gave him an opportunity to rest and let other players play in a tight game.

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