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Hawks doomed by defensive effort, crunch time in 121-110 loss to Hornets

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The Hawks fought hard all night long but could not get the stops they needed when it counted most.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Charlotte Hornets Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Hawks were finally back on the road again after making a short trip to the Spectrum Center to face off against old friend Dwight Howard and the Charlotte Hornets. The Hawks are coming off a demoralizing loss to the Raptors on Wednesday and look to rebound in a big way against their division rivals.

Atlanta’s inactive list for Friday’s game included only DeAndre’ Bembry who will not play as he continues his rehab from a “left groin strain” that may keep him sidelined longer than first anticipated.

The Hawks played pretty well to open the game getting some good offense from Taurean Prince and Kent Bazemore. Taurean Prince putting together a solid game would be a great sign for Atlanta who has missed out on his good play of late after opening the season playing very well.

For Charlotte, it was Michael Kidd-Gilchrist who seemingly couldn’t miss in the first quarter and made a few jumpers that have been few and far between for MKG this season. The Hawks shot great from three-point range but continued their troubling trend of giving up 30-point quarters to opposing teams and finished the first down 30-26.

The second quarter was seemingly a carbon copy of the first quarter with a few more fouls involved as it seemed Atlanta was getting whistled for everything. The Hawks opened the quarter with back to back to back three pointers from Tyler Dorsey, John Collins, and Mike Muscala putting the Hawks back in the game.

The Hornets continued to punish the Hawks pulling down offensive rebounds off missed shots and fouling Dwight Howard who somehow managed to make 8 of 10 free throws in the first half very uncharacteristically. The Hawks leaned on Ersan Ilyasova and Dennis Schroder for scoring late in the quarter as the game grinded to a halt walking from free throw line to free throw line. The Hawks gave up yet another 30-point quarter and went into halftime trailing 61-52.

Kemba Walker opened the third quarter with a quick jumper to continue the Charlotte onslaught of points. From there on it was a mini three-point contest between Taurean Prince and Nicolas Batum as they both exchanged back to back threes and then Kent Bazemore took over.

Kent Bazemore snapped and went on a monster run of his own in his old stomping grounds first getting an AND-1 to go down and then making back to back to back threes in an unconscious fashion of being a one-man comeback. Bazemore also added a layup over Dwight Howard who aided the Hawks cause in the third with two bad offensive fouls and a technical.

There was a slight lull in the action midway through the quarter with some offensive fouls going both ways and shots here and there for each team as both Atlanta and Charlotte fought for the lead. Charlotte played well in the final two minutes of the quarter, but the Hawks were finally able to limit the Hornets to under 30 points in the quarter… with only 29 instead. The Hawks had a fantastic third offensively and pulled themselves into a manageable deficit going into the final quarter 90-86.

Mike Muscala started the fourth on a good note for Atlanta with a baseline jumper cutting the Charlotte lead to just two. John Collins dominated his matchup against Johnny O’Brien and really gave the Hawks some great energy when Dwight Howard came into the game. Kent Bazemore re-entered the game and continued his ridiculous play with a corner three and yet another AND-1 helping Atlanta begin to build a lead.

Bazemore was quite insane in the second half of the game, creating offense on cuts to the basket and drop off passes to bigs rolling to the paint while also scoring at will. Charlotte did fight back mostly through Nic Batum who is playing well after having a rough stretch of games post injury.

The Hornets regained the lead on a Howard push-off (that was not called) and dunk. Taurean continued his great play with a steal and dunk on a night where he desperately needed a good showing and delivered big time. Howard would pick up his 5th foul around the 4-minute mark and was largely quiet on the night he claimed to want to “kill the Hawks.”

The Hornets went on a quick 7-0 spout led by Kemba Walker with under two minutes remaining to take a 116-110 lead with time running down. The Hawks were not able to close and will look to get revenge next Wednesday night when the Hornets come to Atlanta.

The Hawks get no rest for the weary as they will return to action once again tomorrow back in Phillips Arena to matchup with the Washington Wizards.