Hornets Regroup for Win in Atlanta, Hayward Scores Career-High 44 PTS
Hawks Take Lead in 4th After 24-PT Deficit, Charlotte Buckles Down to Snap 3-Game Slide
The Charlotte Hornets raced out to a big lead only to watch it slip away completely in the fourth quarter before regrouping for an impressive 102-94 road win over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday, Jan. 6 at State Farm Arena.
Gordon Hayward was absolutely magnificent in this one, finishing with a career-high 44 points on 15-of-25 shooting (4-of-9 from three), seven rebounds and two assists in the victory. Twenty-five of Hayward’s points came in the opening two quarters, tying a career high for any half and overall, this outing is now the highest-scoring total by any Hornet player this season.
Charlotte pieced together its best start of the season and outscored the Hawks, 27-11, in the opening 12 minutes, the fewest points in any quarter this season for the hosts. The Hornets led by 24 points in the second at one point, but Atlanta continued to battle the rest of the way, finally pulling ahead 86-85 by the 5:22 mark of the fourth following a 19-2 run.
The Hornets then responded with a 12-4 stretch, getting all but three points during this span from Hayward to put themselves back up by seven with 1:32 left. Both sides traded baskets and free throws down the stretch and a key defensive rebound by Devonte’ Graham with 21 seconds to go on the clock sealed the win for the visitors.
“I thought we showed resiliency tonight,” said Coach Borrego afterwards. “We have not been in this position a ton this year where we’ve had a lead, lost it and then had to regain control there. I give our guys a ton of credit. We didn’t panic, we stayed the course. I thought Gordon set the tone with his aggressiveness more than anything. He made big shots, he made big plays. I thought he was fantastic tonight. Give him a ton of credit.”
“I thought it was a great win for us. We need that one for sure,” added Hayward. “I’m just proud of our effort. We have some things certainly we can clean up, but we were able to stabilize and figure out a way to get a win. Credit to my teammates for finding me early. When a couple threes go down, it definitely makes your night feel like it’s going to be a lot better. This one was a lot of fun and hopefully I can try and build off it.”
LaMelo Ball racked up 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists off the bench, stretching his consecutive five-assist game mark to six straight outings (now tied for the second-longest by a rookie in franchise history). Terry Rozier (14 points) and Graham (11) were also in double figures, with the latter adding a game-high seven assists.
For the Hawks, John Collins double-doubled with a team-high 23 points and 11 rebounds and fellow frontcourter Clint Capela racked up seven points and a game-high 19 rebounds (six offensive) in the loss. Kevin Huerter scored 19 points off the bench (5-of-12 shooting from three) and De’Andre Hunter chipped in 17 points on 6-of-15 shooting. All-Star Trae Young struggled immensely to the tune of just seven points on 2-of-9 shooting and seven turnovers, snapping his 53-game streak of double-digit scoring.
Both sides shot 38% from the field, although the Hornets were 11-of-36 from three (31%), while the Hawks, who entered the night ranked third in the NBA in offensive efficiency, went just 7-of-40 (18%). Charlotte also had just 10 turnovers and outscored the hosts, 16-8, in fast-break points.
The Hornets will now close out their four-game road trip against the Pelicans on Friday, Jan. 8 starting at 7:30 PM EST at the Smoothie King Center. Watch the game on ESPN or listen in on WFNZ 610 AM or 102.5 FM.
The Hornets will look to grab their first win of the road trip against the Hawks on Wednesday, Jan. 6 starting at 7:30 PM EST in Atlanta. Catch the action on Fox Sports Southeast, the Fox Sports GO app and WFNZ 610 AM or 102.5 FM.