For one night time, at the least, the Atlanta Hawks seemed just like the group that made a surprising run to the Japanese Convention remaining final summer season.
Trae Young bounced again from a sluggish begin to rating 24 factors and De’Andre Hunter led a third-quarter surge Wednesday that carried the Hawks to a 132-103 rout of the Charlotte Hornets in a play-in sport.
“We’re positively assured proper now,” Hunter stated. “However we’ve obtained much more work to do. We’re not happy but.”
The Hawks had been a little bit of a disappointment through the common season, ending ninth within the East after their stunning playoff success in 2021.
They’ve nonetheless obtained to win another play-in sport simply to make the playoffs, heading to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers on Friday night time. The winner claims the No. 8 seed within the East and can face the top-seeded Miami Warmth within the opening spherical of the playoffs.
The season is over for the Hornets, who had been overwhelmed within the 9-10 play-in sport for the second yr in a row and haven’t made the playoffs since 2016.
Nonetheless, coach James Borrego known as it one other step ahead for a rebuilding group.
“Plenty of good issues have occurred for this franchise based mostly on the place we’re at at present in comparison with the place we had been two or three years in the past,” he stated.
Miles Bridges was ejected within the fourth quarter and may very well be going through extra punishment from the league workplace after he appeared to strike a younger fan together with his mouthpiece.
All 5 Atlanta starters scored in double figures, as did Bogdan Bogdanovic off the bench. It was Hunter who got here up huge within the decisive third interval, bursting out with 16 factors after being held to three within the first half.
“I believe I’m a giant a part of this group,” Hunter stated. ”Me being aggressive, scoring and defending, helps this group rather a lot.”
The Hornets closed the common season robust and felt like that they had a great probability to win a few play-in video games on the highway. However these hopes got here crashing down towards their I-85 rival.
LaMelo Ball led Charlotte with 26 factors on 7-of-25 capturing.
The Hawks led by 13 within the first half earlier than settling for a 60-52 benefit on the break. Charlotte had a little bit of momentum within the closing minutes of the half, but it surely positive didn’t carry over to the third.
The Hawks outscored the Hornets 42-24 throughout that 12-minute barrage, hitting 16 of 24 pictures, and led 102-76 heading to the ultimate interval.
With the Hornets doubling at each alternative, Younger made just one of 9 pictures within the opening quarter and three of 13 within the first half.
However his teammates discovered loads of open appears and made the Hornets pay dearly.
“It’s nice for my group,’” stated Younger, who had 11 assists. “If you may make two guys guard you, it solely opens up the ground for everyone else. I’ve to embrace it.”
Charlotte ought to’ve recognized what sort of night time it might be on their technique to State Farm Enviornment.
The Hornets’ chartered bus was blocked by a freight practice that stopped on a crossing close to the downtown sports activities complicated. The bus needed to flip round and take a unique path to the sector, delaying Charlotte’s arrival for pregame warmups.
It didn’t get a lot better as soon as the sport tipped off.
The Hornets’ frustration boiled over with about 6 1/2 minutes to go when Bridges complained so vehemently a couple of goaltending name that he picked up two fast technicals and was ejected.
Then, with a Hawks fan yapping at him on the best way to the locker room, the Hornets participant wildly threw his mouthpiece and appeared to strike a feminine who was merely watching the scene.
Bridges went on Twitter shortly after the sport seeking to make amends.
“Any individual get me involved with the younger girl,” he stated. “That’s unacceptable.”
Bridges said he’ll settle for no matter punishment he will get from the league.
“I used to be upset a couple of name, a few calls actually,” he stated. “I let my mood get one of the best of me. It was positively the fallacious factor to do.”
The Hawks had been in a play-in sport for the primary time, however Hunter is aware of one thing concerning the one-and-done really feel of the format.
Throughout his school profession at Virginia, he helped lead the Cavaliers to the nationwide championship in 2019.
“It’s just like the NCAA Match,” Hunter stated. “I’m unsure how really feel about it. We received, so I assume I prefer it. However I’m unsure. It’s robust.”
Hornets: Terry Rozier had 21 factors. …. As a group, Charlotte shot 37.8% (37 of 90) from the sector.
Hawks: F John Collins (sprained foot, sprained finger) has stepped up exercises however nonetheless wasn’t in a position to play. His hasn’t been in a sport since March 11. … G Lou Williams additionally was inactive with decrease again discomfort. … Capela had 17 rebounds, main the Hawks to a 54-41 edge on the boards.
The Hawks went 3-1 towards the Cavaliers through the common season, splitting the 2 video games in Cleveland.