Hawks Rout Hornets; Clinch 5th Seed

4.11.17

 

Atlanta – The Atlanta Hawks are playing very good basketball at the right time.  The Hawks wasted no time dispatching the visiting Charlotte Hornets 103 – 76 at Philips Arena on Tuesday night.  The victory stretched the Hawks win streak to 4 games, clinched the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race, and more importantly, continued momentum for one of the league’s hottest teams.  Atlanta entered their final regular season home game locked into a cloudy playoff picture that saw the Hawks finish anywhere from 5th to 7th in the East.  The Hawks were also coming off of 3 hard-fought victories against the top two teams in the East (Boston and Cleveland) including a thrilling come from behind victory over the Cavaliers on Sunday.  As such, a casual observer would expect the Hawks to have a letdown: specifically when facing a Charlotte club sitting on the outside of the playoff picture and playing without their star point guard, Kemba Walker. However, Atlanta quickly erased all doubts and unloaded an all out assault on Charlotte.

Millsap scores two for the Hawks
Credit: The Edwardsville Intelligencer

Dwight Howard led Atlanta’s balanced attack with 19 points and 12 rebounds.  In fact, Tuesday’s finish was a total team effort for the Hawks as all 13 active players entered the contest and the scoring column.  Howard set the tone for the Hawks with 10 first quarter points as the Hornets front line found it difficult to contain the Hawks’ center.  Atlanta was able to lean on Howard’s fast start to gain a 9 point advantage after 1 quarter of play.  Without their star guard, Charlotte lacked the fire power to keep pace with the Hawks and found themselves down by as much as 21 points in the 2nd quarter.  A Jeremy Lamb 3 pointer with just over 6 minutes left in the half cut the Hawks’ lead to 16 but back to back baskets from Tim Hardaway Jr. and Paul Millsap stopped the Hornets’ charge and kept Atlanta comfortably in front.  The final half of play served as window dressing for the Hawks and the Atlanta fans in attendance for their final regular season game.  Atlanta was able to overcome a dreadful 7-27 performance from 3 by shooting 52% from the field and out rebounding Charlotte 50-40.  A testament to moving the basketball, the Hawks collected 30 assists on their 41 field goals made: this stat has been the constant during the 4-game winning streak.

 

Millsap and Ersan Ilyasova chipped in 10 points each to support Howard.  Dennis Schroder exhibited improved decision-making with 9 assists to help the Hawks’ effort.  Jeremy Lamb led Charlotte with 21 points on 7 of 18 shooting.  With the Eastern Conference’s 5th seed in the bag, Atlanta looks to complete the regular season with a relatively meaningless game at Indiana on Wednesday followed by an opening round playoff contest against the Washington Wizards: the conference’s 4th seed.  Washington leads the season series versus the Hawks 3-1 however, there’s no question that Atlanta is playing some of its best basketball at the most appropriate time: playoff time.

 

Next Up:

Atlanta Hawks v. Indiana Pacers

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Bankers Life Field House

Indianapolis, IN

8pm

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