Hornets Beginning 2-Game Trip Against Atlanta Hawks

Charlotte Hornets vs. Atlanta Hawks, State Farm Arena
by Sam Perley

Following a much-needed home win on Saturday night, the Charlotte Hornets will now embark on a quick two-game trip and get set to face the Atlanta Hawks starting tonight at 7:30 PM EST at State Farm Arena.

The Hornets dropped the first three outings on their four-game homestand by just 11 total points before breaking through with a 108-99 win over Houston two nights ago. Terry Rozier (24), Devonte’ Graham (23) and PJ Washington (22) combined for 69 total points in the victory, which came after consecutive losses at the buzzer to San Antonio and Denver earlier in the week.

“We just have to keep grinding, keep coming in and getting better, keep watching film,” said Graham. “I think this home stretch, we have been in close games figuring out how to close and tonight we did that. We’ve been gaining confidence as a young group. You have to give it to the coaching staff. They stay on us not putting our heads down. You know teams are going to go on runs, so you just got to get the ball out of the net and go play the next play.”

Atlanta won in Charlotte, 122-107, back on Dec. 8, with All-Star starter Trae Young (30 points and nine assists), Jabari Parker (19) and Alex Len (13 points and 10 rebounds) leading the way for the visitors. Washington and Miles Bridges each had a team-high 20 points for the Hornets, who allowed the Hawks to connect on 18-of-40 three-point attempts (40.0%) and score 20 points off turnovers.

Parker, Len, Allen Crabbe and Evan Turner have since been traded with Clint Capela, Jeff Teague, Dewayne Dedmon, Skal Labissière and Treveon Graham now in the mix (Capela has yet to appear because of injury). Since Feb. 6 (trade deadline), the Hawks rank 14th in offensive rating (112.0) and 27th in defensive rating (116.9). Having dealt with a recent illness, Young is averaging 23.8 PPG on 33.3% shooting (17.5% from 3P) and 9.2 APG over his last five outings.

Both John Collins (24.0 PPG on 60.9% shooting and 9.3 RPG) and rookie Cam Reddish (16.4 PPG on 50.5% shooting; three starts in eight appearances) have stepped up for the Hawks since the All-Star Break, leading to a modest 4-5 record. Atlanta plays at the NBA’s sixth-fastest pace (103.49) and allows the second-most points off turnovers (19.4) and second-chance points (15.2), two areas the Hornets will need to capitalize on in order to even out the season series.

Game Notes: C Clint Capela (right calcaneus contusion; plantar fasciitis) and F Skal Labissière (left knee chondral injury) will not play for Atlanta… Charlotte is 10-3 against the Hawks since the start of the 2016-17 season (4-2 on the road)… The Hornets are just 1-6 in divisional games this season (beat Washington at home on Dec. 10).

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