Fri, 09 Dec 2022

Kevin Huerter makes return to Atlanta as Kings face Hawks

Field Level Media
23 Nov 2022, 17:19 GMT+10

The surging Sacramento Kings put their seven-game winning streak on the line when they make their only visit to play the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday.

Sacramento extended its streak, its longest since November 2004, with a 113-109 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday. The Hawks are coming offa 114-102 loss at Cleveland on Monday.

The Hawks swept the two-game series with Sacramento last season. The Hawks have won the last two games against the Kings in Atlanta.

The game will mark the return of former Hawk Kevin Huerter, a popular player who spent four seasons with Atlanta after being the 19th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Huerter averaged 11.4 points during his tenure with the Hawks, where he established his reputation for 3-point shooting prowess. He was traded to the Kings in July for Maurice Harkless, Justin Holiday and a first-round pick.

Huerter scored 18, including four 3-pointers in the win over Memphis. De'Aaron Fox, who was named Western Conference Player of the Week on Monday, scored 32 and Harrison Barnes added 26 in the win.

"I feel like my first couple years, there weren't guys who really knew my game," Huerter said. "They probably saw me as a guy who stands in the corner and shoots. I think I'm a guy who can get into the paint, make plays and obviously distribute and make plays for other guys, too."

The Hawks have missed Huerter's 3-point touch. Atlanta was second in the league last season with 37.4 percent, but rank 27th in 3-point percentage (32.0). Even Trae Young's perimeter numbers are down; he's shooting 30.4 percent on 3's and Monday made just 1-for-7.

Young is otherwise having a fine season. He is averaging 27.2 points and 9.5 assists and has posted a double-double in three of his last five games. Young is one 10-assist game away from tying Doc Rivers (138) for the most in franchise history.

With De'Andre Hunter out with the flu, Atlanta coach Nate McMillan gave first-round draft pick A.J. Griffin his first start on Monday and he responded with 17 points and three steals in 36 minutes. Griffin had the game-winning basket at the buzzer to beat Toronto on Monday. He is averaging 8.4 points.

"He's still working, you know," McMillan said. "They are going at him. Whenever they see a young guy in the lineup, they try to target and I thought he did a good job of just working. He's going to make some mistakes but he has to continue to work and learn to defend. He comes in and plays with a lot of confidence and that's a good thing. We'll figure out where to place him and how to use him."

Atlanta has scored at least 100 points in each of its first 17 games for just the fourth time in franchise history, and in 38 straight, the longest active streak in the NBA. Sacramento had its string of six straight games with at least 120 points broken by Memphis.

--Field Level Media

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