Hawks’ huge third quarter fuels win

A pre-game like no other, saw the Charlotte Hornets walking to State Farm Arena, a little over 30 minutes before tipoff. The root cause was a train that blocked the team’s bus entrance. 

The delay may have been attributed to the Hornets’ slow start as the Hawks would go on a 14-3 run to take an 11-point lead early in the first quarter. The Hornets also struggled to find a rhythm shooting 33% from both the field and three-point land after the opening quarter as they trailed 32-23. 

The second quarter was much the same as the Hawks led 60-52. All the hype around this game was the matchup between young stars LaMelo Ball and Trae Young. Both were expected to have big games and it was thought whichever one was first to take over would be the one to propel his team to victory. After the first 24 minutes of game time, the all-stars were under double-digit scoring figures as they both shot 3-13 from the field.

The crowd brought the playoff energy from the opening tip but in the second half, the crowd’s intensity was assertive as they knew the Hawks were on the cusp of breaking the game wide open. That they did, immediately bouncing out to a 14-point lead as Trae Young facilitated the rock with ease and efficiency. 

The Hawks’ movement off the ball left the Hornets’ defense confused as shooters were wide open on the perimeter and in the paint for the easy finish. The Hawks exploded in the third quarter as DeAndre Hunter scored 16 and Trae Young dropped 14 points in the period. 

The Hawks outscored the Hornets 42-24 in the third quarter and never looked back. The Hornets seemed to lose life as the Hawks took a commanding 26-point lead heading into the fourth. The seemingly flawless quarter was capped off with the Hawks not committing a single turnover in the 12-minute time interval.

Hawks head coach Nate McMillan was impressed with his team’s balanced defensive attack in the third quarter which opened everything else up for them on the other side of the ball.

“We established our defense, I’m really happy with the way we established it,” said McMillan. “We were able to cause turnovers and get out in transition. I thought it was a solid team effort, we were getting back in transition and making them score over the top.”

The Hornets’ collapse was encapsulated by Miles Bridges’ fourth-quarter ejection that saw him beam his mouthpiece into the crowd which happened to hit a younger fan after he approached an official with profane language following a goaltending call against him. 

The Hawks won 132-103 as they completely manhandled the Hornets in the second half. They outrebounded the Hornets by 13, had 10 more assists, blocked more shots and stole the ball more often. Of course, the team that had the lowest turnover-per-game average won the turnover margin as the Hawks had 10 compared to the Hornets’ 14. 

Trae Young led the way for the Hawks scoring 24 points while dropping 11 dimes. Clint Capela also had a double-double with 15 points and 17 rebounds. Each Hawks starter scored at least 13 points. 

The Hawks shot 52% (49-94) from the field and 50% (16-32) from three in the end while the Hornets finished below 40% from the field. The long-range shooting wasn’t any better for them as they shot 32% (13-41).

The Hawks play in another win-or-go-home game on Apr. 15th in Cleveland to determine who earns the eighth seed and plays the Miami Heat.