Kent Bazemore hit a game-winning layup with four seconds remaining in the game and John Collins sealed the victory with a blocked shot as the Atlanta Hawks snapped a ten game losing streak with a 124-123 victory over the Charlotte Hornets. A shuffle to the starting lineup and rotations proved to be the remedy for a struggling Hawks’ team as the bench scored 61 points and helped the team overcome a double digit first-half deficit to secure the Hawks’ fourth win of the season.
Kemba Walker put the Hornets ahead 123-122 with a step-back jumper with 48 seconds left in the game. After Trae Young missed a layup, the Hawks played tenacious defense to force a shot clock violation by the Hornets. Hawks’ coach Lloyd Pierce called a timeout to set up the Hawks’ final offensive possession with 15 seconds remaining.
The Hawks inbounded the ball to Trae Young but the Hornets used a foul to force the Hawks to inbound the ball again. After Walker denied the inbounds pass to Young, the ball went to Bazemore who beat Hornets’ guard Dwayne Bacon off the dribble to score the layup to put the Hawks up by one with four seconds to play.
After using a timeout to advance the ball to halfcourt, the Hornets went to Walker, who dribbled past Hawks’ guard DeAndre’ Bembry, but he was met in the lane by Collins, who blocked his shot to give the Hawks the win.
Coming into the game, Pierce opted to make some changes to the starting lineup which resulted in rotation adjustments for the entire game. Bazemore played off the bench as Young, Collins, Taurean Prince, Kevin Huerter and Dewayne Dedmon started the game.
Pierce alluded to Bazemore’s willingness to come off the bench when reflecting on the game-winning basket, “The basketball gods rewarded sacrifice. Baze, giving up that starting spot and being a team guy, a professional, for him to make the game winning basket, that’s really what it’s about.” He added, “For him to get the game-winning drive after coming off the bench for the first time is really a testament to who he is as a professional.”
Early in the game, it seemed the Hawks might be in for another long night. As all of the defensive attention was on Walker from the beginning, the Hornets managed to get open shots on nearly every possession.
After the Hornets jumped out to an 8-3 lead, Pierce called an early timeout barely two minutes into the game. Out of the timeout, Young hit a three and then found Collins for a layup on the next possession to tie the game.
As the first quarter progressed, the Hawks were efficient offensively but could not get stops on the defensive end. Another three by Young put the Hawks ahead 15-12 with 7:44 to play in the opening period. Walker countered with a three of his own which started a 21-8 run that included four Hornets three-pointers, the last of which was made by Frank Kaminsky and forced another timeout by Pierce with the Hawks trailing 33-23.
The first quarter was defined by the Hawks’ doubling Walker off screens leading to wide open shots for the Hornets. By the end of the quarter, the Hawks allowed 43 points as Charlotte made seven threes out of 11 attempts. Walker played the entire quarter and was dominant with ten points and six assists.
The Hawks shot well in the first quarter as well making six three-pointers themselves but the effort was only good enough for a 43-32 deficit at the end of the quarter. The Hawks were hindered by early foul trouble for Collins, who played five minutes before heading to the bench with his second foul.
In the second quarter, the Hawks caught a respite from Walker as reserve guards Devonte’ Graham and Malik Monk took over. While Walker was on the bench, the Hawks opened the period on a 15-5 run. A Jeremy Lin layup pulled the Hawks within a point just after Walker returned to the game.
Once again, the attention was on Walker, but it was Monk who took over the scoring. Three consecutive scores by Monk built a 56-47 lead for the Hornets. But as Bembry entered the game for Young with 6:12 to play in the half, the defensive energy changed. The Hawks were able to get some defensive stops which led to back-to-back scores by Bembry to close the gap to four.
Later in the quarter, Prince tied the game with two minutes remaining before the Hawks headed to halftime trailing 66-65. The guard combination of Lin and Bembry held Walker to zero points and one assist on 0-for-7 shooting over the final six minutes of the second quarter.
Early in the third quarter, the Hornets again found their shooting stroke, making four three-pointers in the first four minutes of the second half. The last of those four threes prompted Pierce to use a timeout with the Hawks again trailing, this time by nine with 8:12 remaining in the third quarter.
Coming out of the timeout, the Hawks used a run of three-pointers of their own, one each from Young, Prince, and Huerter, to close to gap to one point. Less than a minute later, the Hawks tied the game at 84-84 on a spectacular alley-oop from Young to Collins, after which Hornets’ coach James Borrego used a timeout in an attempt to stem the Hawks’ momentum.
After the timeout, the Hawks got a defensive stop, then Collins found Bazemore for a layup giving the Hawks their first lead since the early minutes of the game. With the reserve guard unit on the floor again for the Hornets, the Hawks took advantage building an eight point lead before consecutive Hornets’ baskets at the end of the period closed that gap to 100-97 heading to the fourth quarter.
Bembry got the Hawks started in the fourth with a reverse layup in the halfcourt offense then found Collins for an easy layup to give the Hawks a five point lead with 9:28 remaining. But the Hornets retook the lead on back-to-back threes by Monk, giving them a 109-108 lead with 7:59 to play.
The Hawks retook the lead with a Bazemore three-pointer, which prompted Borrego to reinsert Walker into the game for final seven minutes of the game. A dunk by Collins put the Hawks up 114-109, prompting another Hornets’ timeout.
After the timeout, Walker rediscovered his shot and tied the game on a mid-range jumper with 3:11 to play, then gave the Hornets a 119-118 lead on a three pointer on the next possession.
A layup by Bazemore and a dunk by Collins put the Hawks back up by three but four consecutive points by Walker put the Hornets back up 123-22 with less than a minute remaining. On the next Hawks’ possession, Young missed a layup but the stage was then set for the late-game heroics by Bazemore and Collins to deliver a thrilling victory for the Hawks.
Collins overcame early foul trouble to score a career high 23 points and tally 11 rebounds and four assists. He was a game high +16 in the box score. No other Hawks’ player was better than +3 in the box score.
Bembry also achieved a career high in scoring with 16 of his own. He also added six rebounds and six assists. His presence on defense was also a clear factor in the game. After the game, Coach Pierce noted, “I don’t even need to look at a stat sheet with him, his energy, when he gets into the game changes everything we do...Defensively, he’s the guy that’s been our most consistent defender all year.”
While Collins and Bembry tallied career highs, Bazemore was perhaps the star of the game. Playing off the bench for the first time since the 2016-17 season, Bazemore scored 20 points on 9-for-11 shooting with four rebounds and five assists.
Young finished with 18 points and five assists. He made four of his ten three-point attempts after making just one of his last 25 coming into this game. His shooting had an impact on the game as, in addition to making shots, the Hornets ran Young off the three-point line late in the game, which created scoring opportunities for the Hawks at other spots on the floor.
The Hornets were led by Monk’s 26 points, which tied a career high, spurred mostly by his three-point shooting. Monk hit seven threes in the contest. Walker finished with 22 points and nine assists while Williams tallied 20 points and 13 rebounds.
Both teams had success at the three-point line (Charlotte 18-for-45, Atlanta 16-for-39). The Hornets had a huge edge at the free throw line, making 23 in 28 attempts compared to the Hawks who made just eight of 11 attempts. The Hawks overcame the free throw disparity by taking advantage of the Hornets’ lack of rim protection. The Hawks scored 58 points in the paint compared to just 28 by the Hornets.
The Hawks have Monday off before playing the Miami Heat in Miami on Tuesday night.