DimeMag

The Hawks Lit Up The Hornets And Will Play Cleveland For The 8-Seed

It was a familiar feeling for the Hawks and Hornets on Wednesday night, as Wednesday’s play-in game in Atlanta felt awfully similar to how each team fared in postseason basketball a year ago. That’s a very good thing for the Hawks, who are looking to claw their way into the 8-seed a year removed from a stunning run to the Eastern Conference Finals, and a bad thing for the Hornets, who for the second year in a row fell flat in the play-in tournament.

Charlotte started well, but after an early run put them on top, the Hawks settled in against the trapping Hornets defense and started to knock down shots. Kevin Huerter got loose and provided some much needed shooting as Charlotte aggressively doubled Trae Young out of the gates, successfully slowing down Young’s scoring, but asking the Hawks others to beat them, which they happily obliged.

While Young struggled to score the ball efficiently, he still was orchestrating the offense beautifully, throwing some absolutely gorgeous passes to set up his teammates with easy finishes thanks to Charlotte’s efforts in selling out to keep Young from getting clean looks at the basket.

Young finished the game with 24 points on 8-of-24 shooting to go along with 10 assists in the win, as all five Hawks starters (and Bogdan Bogdanovic off the bench) hit double figures on the night. In the first half, it was Huerter who found his stroke, but the most impressive effort of the night for Atlanta came from De’Andre Hunter, who had 22 points and seven rebounds, doing most of his damage in the third quarter as the Hawks ran away with the win, dominating in a 42-24 quarter.

Ultimately, the Hawks rolled to a 132-103 win and the frustration of the loss seemed to wear on the Hornets, leading to an ejection for Miles Bridges for arguing a goaltending call that ended in an ugly scene as he threw his mouthguard at a Hawks fan mocking him as he went into the tunnel and ended up hitting a girl in the face.

It was simply not a good night for the Hornets, who for the second year in a row see their season end in dreadful fashion in the play-in tournament, and it will be back to the drawing board for the front office in trying to construct a roster capable of going deeper next year.

For Atlanta, they seem to be peaking at the right time once again, but will need to put forth another strong performance on Friday night when they head to Cleveland to face the Cavs for the right at the 8-seed and a first round series against the Miami Heat, starting on Sunday.

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