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Hornets give Hawks runaround in home loss

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If you watched this game, I hope your eyes are feeling better today...

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks dropped their fifth straight game as they fell to the Charlotte Hornets 129-117 at Philips Arena on Thursday night.

Taurean Prince led the Hawks with 22 points, including six three-pointers, and 10 rebounds while John Collins tied a career-high with 21 points and added nine rebounds.

For the Hornets, Dwight Howard — as he has all season — bullied the Hawks as he scored a season-high 33 points and 12 rebounds. Kemba Walker took a while to get going but eventually added 24 points while Nicolas Batum added a triple-double with 10 points, a career-high 16 assists and 10 rebounds.

A battering...

Let’s just say it: this game was terrible. It was just awful to watch.

The Hornets did almost whatever they wanted on offense, shot over 52% from the field, shot over 51% from three (with 17 made threes) and scored 30 or more points in all four quarters for 129 points— just a very poor defensive showing from the Hawks.

If there was one stretch of the game where things got away from the Hawks, it was the beginning of the third quarter. The Hornets opened the third with a 9-1 run inside the first three minutes to open up a 16 point lead. The Hawks got it back to 10 mid-way through the third but a 12-2 run by the Hornets blew this one to 20 points and there was no way back from there.

“We could’ve had a lot more stops,” said Taurean Prince of the third quarter. “Regardless of that fact, I do feel like we’re getting better in certain areas. It’s not easy having new guys every week. But no excuses. We’ve done a great job putting all the distractions aside. Trying to get better with whoever we have.”

Things got a tiny bit interesting in the fourth when Prince got going from three in the fourth quarter but the Hornets just bombarded the Hawks with threes and a 12-5 run to tuck this game away. A game that was never really close in the second half...

Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer acknowledged post game that it was a not a good showing from the Hawks.

“Credit to Charlotte,” said Budenholzer. “They played well tonight. We didn’t seem to have what it takes to match their execution…shot making between Kemba, Batum, all of them...129 points is way too many. Too many free throws, fouled too many shooters. Not a good night for us, but sometimes…the other night we felt like we played well and got better. Tonight a lot different feeling. Hopefully we can learn from it and move forward to Saturday.”

It definitely felt like a case of one step forward, two steps back. Positives to take from the Thunder game on Tuesday but this...there’s effectively nothing useful to take from this game. And that’s rare territory to be in but that’s honestly how bad this game was.

The Hornets were well worth their win and well worth their season-series sweep (4-0). Speaking of, here’s an interesting stat (a lot more interesting than the game itself): so far this season the Hornets have swept the Hawks in the season-series and have won every game they’ve played so far against fellow division rivals Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards (leading 3-0 in both of those series) but lost all four games against the Miami Heat this season.

Wild...

Again, just an absolute battering from the Hornets (the final scoreline doesn’t tell the full story) and it was done by committee (seven players in double-digit scoring). Marvin Williams was great also for the Horners. (plus-32).

Almost nothing positive for the Hawks to take away from this game. It was just ugly.

Dwight Howard’s dominance

The Hawks have had issues containing Dwight Howard all season and last night was no exception as Howard scored a season-high 33 points, shot 7-of-8 from the free throw line and grabbed 12 rebounds.

The Hawks just had no answer for Dwight inside: everything around the rim he took to take care of:

Just a massacre inside the paint/at the rim...

Dwight is a tough matchup inside for anyone but especially if you’re less experienced. John Collins had some good moments against Dwight but it was mostly Dwight winning out:

Dwight was feeling it to an extent that he took and hit a number of (yes, multiple) jumpshots in this game:

When Dwight is making jumpers all over the place and hitting seven of his eight free throws, you just have to concede it’s not your game.

“Their whole team, they all functioned at a high level,” said Budenholzer of Dwight. “Kemba, Batum, him. He made a couple jump shots. He made three or four from 15-to-17 feet, made his free throws. He was efficient. The whole team was efficient. They all played well.”

Dwight was one of John Collins’ first matchups in the NBA and while Collins has grown and improved a lot since then, it’s still a very tough cover.

“He’s very strong, very physical type of guy,” said Collins of Dwight. “Been in the league however-many years. He’s seasoned. Myself, first year in the league, going against a guy that athletic and strong is as hard as it’s going to be. Somewhat of a challenge. Props to him. He had a great game tonight...”

Dwight — as you can imagine — had things to say postgame. How about this one, via Chris Vivlamore of the AJC:

A couple of things to say about this...

“Thank you, Bud”?

Either Dwight has confused the man who actually traded him (which, of course, was newly appointed at the time General Manager Travis Schlenk, not Mike Budenholzer) or just taking a shot at Budenholzer for how he played/used him in his one season in Atlanta.

In any failed relationship, usually both parties are to blame. Could the Hawks have utilized Dwight better last year? Sure. Should the Hawks have ever signed Howard? No. Could Dwight himself have been better? Definitely. Could he have brought it more than when he faced former teams? Absolutely.

Dennis Schröder put it well via KL Chouinard:

That was basically Dwight Howard in Atlanta: awesome against Houston. The rest? <Shrug>

The reason why Dwight didn’t work in Atlanta is because his style just doesn’t compliment was Budenholzer and the Hawks do — they like having players that are versatile, that can shoot from the outside and can fill different holes. That’s why you see Tyler Cavanaugh out there instead of Miles Plumlee (a second consecutive DNP-CD for Plumlee).

Dwight himself didn’t always bring it last season, and laid an egg the size of his shoulders in the playoffs. So for him to be firing shots when he, himself, was the main issue last season is comical. Though, that might be a tad harsh because Dwight is who he is as a player — the Hawks just should’ve realized that before signing him...

Anyways... I think everyone — for reasons both on and off the court — is glad to see the back of Howard and the Hornets this season...

Damion Lee

Literally one of the only positives for the Hawks last night...

After scoring 13 points in his NBA debut against the Thunder, Damion Lee went one better last night: scoring 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting and 3-of-4 from three — he has got range too:

The one thing everyone is quickly learning about Lee is that he’s not shy, not afraid to let it fly:

It’s early — only two games — but this level of three-point shooting is surprising me and I don’t expect it to continue. He shot just 30% from three this season in the G-League after shooting 46% from three the previous season, and that’s a concern. I do expect it to eventually even out but for now...

Lee’s scoring so far with the Hawks has revolved around the three but last night he also made this nice cut off the ball for a layup:

We haven’t seen a whole lot from Lee defensively so far but offensively he has been sound.

“He’s come in…there’s a confidence,” said Mike Budenholzer of Lee. “He has the ability to shoot the three, but also slashing behind shifts. Just a good feel for the game. Sticking his nose in there on rebounds and loose balls. Great first impression for him this week.”

Lee has also made an impression on his teammates in his short time with the Hawks.

“I’m pleased with how he’s playing,” said Taurean Prince. “He’s come along real well. He’s not shy. Fearless. Has some dog in him. Those are the type of guys I can relate with.”

He sure isn’t shy... Anyways, solid game again for Lee — it would be very difficult to imagine he won’t be signed to a second 10-day contract when his current one expires.


The Hawks (20-49) now embark on a six game road trip, beginning in Milwaukee on Saturday...

Should be interesting... Stay tuned.