The Hawks didn’t have much going for them recently heading into their MLK Day home game against the defending NBA champions.
They came after losing five straight overall and 10 straight at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, dating back to Nov. 28, 2023. Going into this game, it’s been a disappointing season for the Hawks, going 17-25 in their first 42 games, fresh off their Conference Finals appearance in the 2023 playoffs.
MORE: Why do the Hawks always play on the NBA MLK Day slate?
However, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the team’s in-form shooting guard, Trae Young, was late to the rescue and sealed the Hawks’ victory over the Bucks.
“Playing on this day is an honor.”
Trae Young talks about Dr. King’s lasting legacy and what it means to him to play on MLK Day. pic.twitter.com/P9f9B1oOCa
— NBA (@NBA) January 18, 2023
The 6-foot-1 shooting guard has been among elite company this season, ranking in the top five in the league in points and assists: 27.7 points (fourth) and 9.4 assists (third).
He struggled early in this game, at least by his standards, only managing 15 points and eight assists on 5-of-12 shooting from the field, including 1-of-5 from 3-point range in the first three quarters.
The fourth quarter, however, was a completely different story. With shots not falling, Young appeared to have made a concentrated attempt to head to the free throw line.
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He scored 15 points in the fourth quarter, a stretch in which the Hawks outscored the Bucks 38-26, doing most of his damage with a perfect 10-for-10 performance on the charity stretch. That’s not all, he seemed to have better control of the game at crucial moments.
Over the final seven minutes, he scored or assisted on 22 of the team’s 32 points as the Hawks outscored the Milwaukee Bucks by 17 points in that span. Thus, turning a 99-89 deficit into a 121-114 win.
51.8 left on TNT! pic.twitter.com/wrPOkwY6KN
— NBA (@NBA) January 18, 2023
Young finished the game with 30 points and 11 assists, the 41st game of his career with at least 30 and 10, while no Hawks player has had more than four since the Pete Maravich era. The 41 games is also a league record since entering the NBA, with James Harden second with 38.
On his way to scoring 30, he also crossed the Milestone of 6,000 career points.
For the Hawks, this was their first home win in nearly two months since Nov. 23. It helps them seal the season series with the Bucks, the first time they’ve done it since the 2016-17 season, having won two of three. game season with last game scheduled for March 9
Can Atlanta use this win to turn things around with much of its recent skid caused by forced absences due to COVID-19? Only time will tell, but Young certainly understands the importance and spoke about it after the game.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) January 18, 2023
Meanwhile, for the Bucks, who were playing without Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton scored with 34 and Giannis Antetokounmpo added 27, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the team from losing its sixth game of the last eight.