Feisty Hornets seek more success vs. Hawks

NBA Basketball

The Charlotte Hornets will look to add to their latest momentum.

A game against the Atlanta Hawks might mean they have a good idea of the formula.

The teams meet for the second time in four nights for Saturday’s matchup in Charlotte, N.C.

“I love that they don’t give in,” Hornets coach James Borrego said of his team. “They figure it out.”

Charlotte rallied from 18 points down to win 118-110 on Friday night at New Orleans. That makes it two wins in a row for the Hornets.

They won 102-94 on Wednesday night in Atlanta. Gordon Hayward scored a career-best 44 points in that game.

The Hawks figure to have a revised plan.

“We knew they’d be scrappy,” Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce said. “They would press. They would switch defenses. They’d zone.”

The problem the Hawks had in the first clash with Charlotte was taking ill-advised shots.

“Sometimes it’s fool’s gold, you’re shooting some of those shots because you’re sped up and they’re moving you,” Pierce said.

Charlotte’s confidence comes in part from the play of rookie guard LaMelo Ball, who came an assist away from his first NBA triple-double Friday night. He had 12 points and 10 rebounds in 26 minutes.

“On to the next game,” Ball said. “We don’t really live in the past. We’re looking to get the third one (in a row).”

The Hawks probably have studied the recent past. Earlier in the week, they never really got tabs on Hayward, who produced his big point total in 39 minutes.

“He’s tough. We got caught on some of the switches early,” Pierce said. “He does a great job of moving. He’s a smart player. He’s a veteran player. They paid him a lot of money and you see why. He’s a good player.”

Pierce said he was disappointed that Ball competed for rebounds and outworked others on the court at times. The rookie was at it again two nights later.

Part of Charlotte’s success in Atlanta came with holding guard Trae Young, who averages a team-best 25.9 points per game, to seven points on 2-for-9 shooting (0-for-3 on 3s) in 35 minutes.

Young’s three 3-point attempts were his fewest in a game since his rookie year in 2018-19.

“I think he was playing the right way for the most part,” Pierce said. “You have to beat them with the pass.”

The Hawks hope for more good stuff from reserve Kevin Huerter, who pumped in 19 points Wednesday night as they want to get a fuller roster.

Only seven Hawks have appeared in all eight games. Guard Brandon Goodwin played 16 straight minutes during one stretch in the home game with Atlanta.

Guard Rajon Rondo, who has played in two games, is in a period of rest and rehabilitation to strengthen his right knee. He’ll remain out of games at least through this weekend.

The Hawks have lost three games in a row with their three lowest point totals of the season.

“We haven’t arrived yet,” Pierce said. “Our guys are high confidence. They’re learning each other. … We need to get out of this rut.”

With the schedule set through the first few days of March, this marks the second of four situations with the Hawks slated to play the same opponent in consecutive games. Though other than Wednesday’s meeting with Charlotte, the other seven games as part of those pairings are road outings for the Hawks.

Last week, they lost to the Brooklyn Nets and then two days later won the rematch.

For the Hawks, this is the start of a stretch with four of five games on the road. This opens a three-game homestand for Charlotte.

–Field Level Media

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