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Recap: Hornets pull away late to beat Hawks, 116-106

PJ Washington caught fire in the game’s final minutes as the Hornets notched a win with huge playoff implications.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Charlotte Hornets Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

LaMelo Ball led six Hornets in double figures with 22 points and 11 assists as the Charlotte Hornets took the game over late to defeat the Atlanta Hawks, 116-106.

The Hornets got off to a hot start offensively. They made seven of their first 11 shots and got nine early points from Miles Bridges. That gave way to some very sloppy basketball from the Hornets. They turned it over multiple times in a short span, had some defensive breakdowns that led to easy looks from the Hawks, and lost a couple of uncontested defensive rebounds out of bounds. They shot the ball well enough to keep it from being too terrible a start though, and a Bridges pull-up 3-pointer at the buzzer gave him 12 for the quarter and brought the Hornets within four of the Hawks.

Montrezl Harrell went to work early in the second quarter with seven quick points to help the Hornets regain the lead. The Hawks would answer with a bunch of open 3-pointers, mostly from the wing to take the lead back and create a little cushion between the teams. LaMelo Ball got aggressive and scored five points down the stretch to pull the Hornets within five at the halftime intermission.

Mason Plumlee opened the second half scoring with a swopping sky hook and a couple of big dunks during a stretch that was as clunky that you’d expect given the highlights were Plumlee buckets. The teams went on to trade baskets for most of the rest of the quarter with the Hawks lead fluctuating between about two and six. Harrell followed up a couple of Hornets misses and bullied his way to the free throw line for a pair of free throws to give the Hornets the lead. The Hawks evened the score at 85 heading into the fourth.

The Hornets scored six straight to open the third quarter, but the Hawks quickly answered. After the back and forth, both teams struggled to put the ball in the basket. The Hawks got decent looks but couldn’t convert while the Hornets played tentatively on the offensive end. PJ Washington helped get the Hornets offense going with a strong layup around Clint Capela and a tough 3-pointer. Terry Rozier hit a sidestep at the shot clock buzzer to put the Hornets up seven with 3:05 to play. Ball found Washington on a pick and roll then a pick and pop on consecutive possessions to put the Hornets up 11. Washington ended up with 13 points in about a three minute span that essentially put the game away for the Hornets. Ball put the cherry on top with a deep three as the Hawks let the clock run out.

The Hornets have had their fair share of struggles late in games this season, so it was really nice to see someone get going when the Hornets needed baskets most. Different Hornets had different moments where they took control of the game while LaMelo Ball provided sparks throughout the night on both ends of the floor. Six Hornets scored double figures and Ball and Mason Plumlee each tallied double doubles.

The Hornets move to 35-35 on the season and take possession of the 9 seed in the Eastern Conference. This is their third straight win, and they have four more games at home before having to hit the road to take on Brooklyn in 11 days. Next up is a visit from the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday.