Pulverizing the No. 10 seed Hornets in the third quarter in the play-in tournament, the No. 9 seed Hawks earned a 132-103 win Wednesday at State Farm Arena and need one more to earn the official No. 8 seed in the playoffs.

They’ll play in Cleveland against the No. 7 Cavaliers Friday.

Below are some takeaways from the win:

1. The Hawks need one more win to nab the No. 8 seed in the playoffs (the No. 7 and No. 8 seed teams only needed one victory to get through and earn the No. 7 seed, with Brooklyn achieving that already). The loser of the 7-8 game, Cleveland, also gets another crack at it with homecourt advantage. The Hawks-Cavs winner will move forward to face the No. 1 seed Miami Heat.

Atlanta has won 20 of its last 23 games at home, but will need that success to translate to the road (where the Hawks are 16-25) in Cleveland.

2. This matchup pit two high-powered offenses against each other, but in the third quarter, it was the Hawks who completely took control of the game, with help from De’Andre Hunter. Hunter started off cold, settling for long jump shots, but found a rhythm in the third and ended up with 16 points in that period alone, finishing with 22 points, seven rebounds and two assists overall. Defensively, he also limited Miles Bridges (12 points, four rebounds, four assists, minus-30), who was ejected in the fourth quarter after arguing a goaltending call, with Hunter awarded the basket.

Hawks forward De'Andre Hunter (12) reacts after scoring during the second half in the NBA play-in tournament at State Farm Arena on Wednesday, April 13, 2022. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)


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Trae Young started out similarly at 1-for-9 from the field, with the Hornets in the first half trying to trap him and take the ball out of his hands. But he found open shooters throughout the night and settled in, adding 14 points in the third quarter. Young finished with 24 points (8-for-24 field goals, 1-for-7 from 3-point range, 7-for-8 free throws) and 10 assists for a double-double.

3. Up eight at halftime, after piling on in the third quarter the Hawks worked up to a 26-point lead heading into the fourth. Atlanta crushed Charlotte in the third quarter, 42-24, shooting 66.7% from the field (16-for-24), 50% from 3-point range (3-for-6) and 7-for-9 from the line. The Hawks tallied 10 assists and zero turnovers in a near-flawless quarter to put the game out of reach.

4. The Hawks had good ball movement, with 31 assists compared to 22 for the Hornets, and that led to good spacing and quality shots. The Hawks shot 52.1% from the field and 50% from 3-point range compared to the Hornets’ 37.8% from the field and 31.7% from 3-point range (13-for-41).

5. Clint Capela made a huge difference for the Hawks in this game, anchoring them on defense and looking an awful lot like the dominant force he was for Atlanta on last year’s playoff run to the Eastern Conference finals. He added 15 points, 17 rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals. The Hornets play fast and excel in transition, but the Hawks’ defense limited them to 11 fast-break points. Only committing 12 turnovers helped stifle Charlotte’s success in transition, too.

Stat of the game: 42-24 (the margin by which the Hawks won the third quarter)

Star of the game: Hunter (got hot with 16 points in the third quarter, finishing with 22 points, seven rebounds and two assists)

Quotable: “Anytime somebody can be out there and make two guys guard you, it only opens up this floor for everybody else. I have to embrace it.” (Young on his mindset with teams like Charlotte trapping and targeting him on defense)