Hawks beat Rockets, will be No. 9 seed in play-in tournament

HOUSTON — In the final game of the regular season, the Hawks’ offense overwhelmed the Rockets, 130-114, earning the No. 9 seed in the East.

Next up, the Hawks (43-39) will host the No. 10 Hornets in the play-in tournament.

Below are some takeaways from the win:

1. Because the Nos. 7-10 seeds in the Eastern Conference have been in such a tight race, the most significant part of the Hawks’ game in Houston (20-62) was how it would affect play-in tournament seeding. With this win, plus the Nets’ win vs. the Pacers and the Cavaliers’ win vs. the Bucks (who rested their starters, to the Hawks’ misfortune), the Hawks will be the No. 9 seed. They will host the 10th-seeded Hornets at 7 p.m. Wednesday at State Farm Arena (game will be broadcast on ESPN). If they lose that game, their season is over. If they win, in order to nab the No. 8 seed, they’ll then have to win a road game against the loser of No. 7 Brooklyn and No. 8 Cleveland.

“We get a home game,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “It doesn’t guarantee anything, but we’ve been pretty good at home, and we know where we stand now and the position we’re in. So now it’s about preparing and focusing on Charlotte.”

2. The rebuilding Rockets have been out of playoff contention for a while and own the second-worst defensive rating in the NBA (116.1), with the third-worst net rating (minus-8.1). So it shouldn’t come as a shock the Hawks’ offense dominated, getting pretty much any shot they wanted. All five starters for Atlanta finished in double-digit scoring: Trae Young with 28 points (plus 11 assists), Danilo Gallinari with 26 points (plus four rebounds and two assists), De’Andre Hunter with 22 points, Clint Capela with 18 points and Kevin Huerter with 11 points (plus five assists). Houston was plucky and has some young talent, narrowing the deficit to seven early in the fourth, but the Hawks kept shooting well and pulled away. Jalen Green led the Rockets with 41 points. Kevin Porter Jr. added 26 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

The Hawks shot a season high from 3 at 55.3% (21-for-38), with Gallinari leading the Hawks with six 3-pointers.

3. After a dicey 17-25 start, and despite a tumultuous season, the Hawks have actually finished pretty strong, going 12-5 in their final 17 games.

4. Young’s third 3-pointer set a franchise record for the most 3-pointers in a season (232), surpassing Mookie Blaylock (231 3-pointers in the 1995-96 season). Overall, Young went 4-for-7 from beyond the arc Sunday and is shooting a career-best 38% from 3-point range this season.

5. This was Capela’s first game back in Houston since being traded from the Rockets to the Hawks in February 2020. The past couple months, Capela has been playing more and more like the dominant force he was for the Hawks last season. He finished with a double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds Sunday.

Hawks 130, Rockets 114

Stat of the game: 55.3% (or 21-for-38, what the Hawks shot from 3-point range, a season high)

Star of the game: Young (led the Hawks in scoring with 28 points and 11 assists)

Quotable: “When you get into the playoffs, everybody’s zero-zero. The records go away. ... Anything can happen. I have confidence in my teammates and myself to go out there and shock a lot of people.” (Young on the Hawks entering the postseason)