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Hawks' Trae Young returns after 23-game absence with finger injury

The Hawks have their star guard back just in time to help them square away their SoFi Play-In Tournament seed.

Trae Young had been sidelined since his finger injury on Feb. 23, which required surgery and sidelined him for 23 games.

ATLANTA (AP) — All-Star point guard Trae Young returned as a starter in the Atlanta Hawks’ 115-114 loss to the Charlotte Hornets after missing 23 games with a torn ligament in his left pinkie.

The three-time All-Star put up 14 points and 11 assists in 21 minutes of action, his first since late February.

Young’s return comes with only three games remaining in the regular season. Young was injured on Feb. 23 and he had surgery on Feb. 27. He was cleared for practice Monday.

Young wore a black wrap covering the surgically repaired finger on his left hand. He gave the first indication the wrap would not affect his shooting when he sank a long shot while seated on the Hawks’ bench during pregame drills.

Hawks coach Quin Snyder said Young’s minutes would be restricted against the Hornets as Young prepares for the Eastern Conference side of the SoFi Play-In Tournament.

“It has more to do with fatigue than anything,” Snyder said. “He’s cleared to play. Anybody who has had an injury or a surgery or anything, there’s always a mental thing to fight through.”

The Hawks are currently 10th in the East. They hold the final spot in the Play-In Tournament, one game behind No. 9 Chicago.

“We don’t necessarily control our own destiny with that, but we can do everything we can,” Snyder said of the race for the No. 9 position and home-court advantage in the first play-in tournament game.

“More than anything, it’s important we’re playing well and get healthy to the extent that we can, too.”

Young leads Atlanta with 26.4 points and 10.8 assists per game. The Hawks have been limited by a long list of injuries and will be without guard Dejounte Murray (right quad contusion) and forwards De’Andre Hunter (rest) and Jalen Johnson (right ankle sprain) against Charlotte.

Snyder’s goal is to have as many players as possible healthy for the Play-In Tournament and to have Young ready for his normal role.

“The biggest thing is it’s great to have him back and he’s excited to play,” Snyder said. “How we manage those other things, sometimes it’s just time, not just for the group but for Trae to find his rhythm. That’s a natural part of coming back.”