Atlanta debuts new “MLK” uniforms, court, go on to beat Minnesota

ATLANTA (AP) — Clint Capela had 23 points and 15 rebounds, De’Andre Hunter scored 25 and the Atlanta Hawks beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 108-97 on Monday.

The Hawks, wearing black, tan and white uniforms with “MLK” sewn across the chest to commemorate the national holiday honoring slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., snapped a two-game skid. They had dropped six of seven.

“It’s really cool in the city of Atlanta, it’s big, especially to get a win today,” Hunter said. “MLK meant so much to the Black community and for the world in general. To be able to come out here and compete and wear those three letters on our chest, to come out and get the win is big.”

Trae Young had 20 points and 13 assists for Atlanta, which took its biggest lead, 15 points, on consecutive 3s from the right side by Kevin Huerter and Hunter with 5:59 remaining. The Timberwolves pulled within six before Young’s runner made it 100-92 with 2:01 left.

Capela’s left-handed hook pushed the lead to 102-94, and Young sealed it with a pair of free throws to make it 104-94 with 33.2 seconds to go.

Capela, who is from Switzerland, said the victory was dedicated to King.

“It means so much, especially here at home,” Capela said. “It was important for us to get this win. Last year was a tough year where I learned a lot by being a Black man in this country.”

D’Angelo Russell finished with 31 points for Minnesota, which has lost nine of 10. The Timberwolves wiped out a 13-point lead to force a 58-all tie on Naz Reid’s basket underneath, but were soon back down by 10 on Hunter’s 3-pointer with 7:23 left in the third.

The Wolves arrived several hours late in Atlanta on Saturday night so that coronavirus tests could be processed to ensure Minnesota, which had its Friday game postponed, would have enough players able to take the floor.

“We have to adjust,” said Malik Beasley, who scored 15 points. “Everybody in the league is adjusting. We don’t have any excuses for that. We’ve got to be better.”

The Hawks, who overcame 24 turnovers, took their first lead at 13-11 on a pair of free throws by Young, who threw an arching alley-oop pass on the next possession to Collins for a dunk. Atlanta took its first double-digit lead midway through the second quarter when Young connected on another alley-oop, this time to Huerter.

John Collins had 15 points and a career-high five blocks for the Hawks.

The Timberwolves without Karl-Anthony Towns, Ricky Rubio and Juancho Hernangomez because of COVID-19 protocols.