Big shots by Bogdanovic help Hawks over Hornets

Atlanta Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic (center) drives to the basket against Charlotte Hornets guard Terry Rozier (3) during the first quarter Sunday, April 11, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (Nell Redmond/AP)
Atlanta Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic (center) drives to the basket against Charlotte Hornets guard Terry Rozier (3) during the first quarter Sunday, April 11, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (Nell Redmond/AP)

Credit: Nell Redmond

Credit: Nell Redmond

Despite a massive injury report and 10-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter, the Hawks didn’t lose confidence.

“We were like, ‘OK, let’s grind it out again.’ ” said Bogdan Bogdanovic, who led the team with a season-high 32 points in their 105-101 win in Charlotte Sunday. “… Let’s go possession by possession. They scored some tough shots. Let’s play basketball and let’s have fun in the fourth quarter, nothing else.”

Bogdanovic made a career-high eight 3′s, going 8-for-16 from 3-point range, adding three assists and three rebounds. With so many shooters out, that scoring pop was key, and it continued his hot streak, shooting 51.5% from 3-point range over the past eight games.

The Hawks (29-25) have now won six of their last seven games and have sole possession of the No. 4 spot in the Eastern Conference standings, with Charlotte (27-25) at No. 5.

“We have some sets that we want to run, and when we have a hot hand, we try to feed that hot hand,” interim coach Nate McMillan said. “Tonight, Bogi had a hot hand and so we were trying to get him the ball and allow him to make plays and I thought he did.”

The Hawks were incredibly shorthanded in this game, missing Trae Young (left calf contusion), John Collins (left ankle sprain), Danilo Gallinari (right foot soreness), Tony Snell (right ankle sprain), Kris Dunn (right ankle surgery), De’Andre Hunter (right knee soreness) and Cam Reddish (right Achilles soreness). But, they had several players fill in nicely, with Brandon Goodwin starting in Young’s absence and finishing with 17 points, a career-high eight assists and five rebounds. Solomon Hill started for Collins and defended well, adding eight points and seven rebounds.

Clint Capela anchored the Hawks’ defense and recorded his 35th double-double of the season with 20 points and 15 rebounds.

The Hornets weren’t at full strength, either, missing LaMelo Ball (right wrist fracture), Gordon Hayward (right foot sprain) and Malik Monk (right ankle sprain).

In the first quarter, the Hawks jumped out to a 17-point lead and led by seven at halftime, as the Hornets’ offense picked up in the second quarter. But, they lost the lead toward the end of the third, off back-to-back 3-pointers by Terry Rozier, and gave up 32 points in that period to trail 77-75 entering the fourth. Rozier added 18 points, and Miles Bridges led the Hornets with 23 points.

Struggling to find a rhythm after a deflated third quarter, the Hawks got down 92-82 with 7:16 left after two driving layups by Brad Wanamaker.

Charlotte Hornets forward Jalen McDaniels (left) drives to the basket against Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela during the third quarter Sunday, April 11, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (Nell Redmond/AP)
Charlotte Hornets forward Jalen McDaniels (left) drives to the basket against Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela during the third quarter Sunday, April 11, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (Nell Redmond/AP)

Credit: Nell Redmond

Credit: Nell Redmond

Then, Lou Williams got hot, revitalizing the Hawks’ shooting efforts with eight quick points to make it a five-point game. Goodwin found Capela for two alley-oops and found Bogdanovic for another 3-pointer to tie things up, 99-99, at the 2:41 mark.

The Hawks finally reclaimed the lead, 103-101, off a bank shot by Williams, who scored 10 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter alone. Bogdanovic put the game out of reach with two free throws in the final seconds.

After the game, McMillan lauded Bogdanovic’s aggression in the win, and said he wants him to shoot even more, though obviously it’s a good sign Bogdanovic often looks to set up teammates.

“All we’ve talked about is being aggressive,” McMillan said. “I think sometimes he’s passing up some shots and looking for teammates and I like that too, but we want him to be aggressive. We’ve personalized our offense a little bit more to get him the ball, move him around. He does a great job of moving off the ball, coming off of screens, so we’ve added a few more sets to kind of feature Bogi in that situation, and we like him in pick-and-rolls.”

Next up, the Hawks will play Toronto Tuesday in Tampa, Fla.

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