CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Hawks looked to head into the All-Star break with a win. But the Hornets sent them packing with a 122-99 loss.

Here are five observations.

1. The Hawks could not seem to muster up enough energy to close out their final game before the break. The home team (which entered the game with a 12-41 record) decimated the Hawks with its intensity and willingness to attack all of their plays with full force.

The Hornets played efficiently, getting to their spots quickly and taking advantage of the late defensive closeouts. If a shot missed and hit iron, they were often right there to grab the rebound.

“I mean, the fix is, we have to compete,” Hawks coach Quin Snyder said. “And that competing, that’s not linear, or nonlinear or flat or there’s no geometry that you attribute to that. We just have to compete collectively. And if we don’t do that, it’s gonna feel like it does right now.”

But the Hawks struggled to slow Hornets rookie and Rising Star Brandon Miller, who dropped 18 points in the first half. The second overall pick in the 2023 NBA draft was four-of-seven from long range in the first 24 minutes.

De’Andre Hunter’s defense helped to hold Miller to eight points in the second half, but Hornets shared the wealth (shooting 49 percent from the field) to pick up the victory.

It’s the second game in a row the Hawks have struggled to slow one of the NBA’s worst offenses. They gave up 136 points to the Bulls, who rank 21st in the NBA in offensive efficiency, on Monday. The Hornets rank 28th in the league in offensive rating.

2. Hunter followed up his strong outing on Monday night with another against Hornets. Despite the loss, he has found a rhythm, taking advantage of his minutes coming off of the bench.

On Monday night, Hunter checked in with just over six minutes to play and scored a second-chance jumper within his first 90 seconds of action. By the end of the first half, he led all Hawks scorers with 11 points, all while taking up the task of defending Hornets forward Miles Bridges.

In the second half, the Hawks switched Hunter on to Miller and was solid defensively - making the rookie work for everything fighting over screens and recovering in time to contest shots. Miller made just two field goals in the entire second half.

“Can’t play physical,” Hunter said. “I just try to stay in front.”

3. The Hawks played without their top two centers on Wednesday night. Though they started Bruno Fernando, they ended up sitting him for the majority of the second half dealing with foul trouble, opting to play small ball.

Even without Fernando, Clint Capela (left adductor strain) and Onyeka Okongwu (left toe sprain), the Hawks attacked the glass, just like their outing against the Bulls on Monday. They generated enough second-chance opportunities.

They averaged 27.9 points on roughly 24.4 plays per 100 missed field goals, per Cleaning the Glass. They outrebounded the Hornets 15-12 on the offensive glass, outscoring them 20-14 on second-chance points.

4. The Hawks needed every bit of it with the backcourt having trouble finding an offensive rhythm. For the second game in a row, the Hawks had inefficient nights from top scorers Trae Young and Dejounte Murray.

Young went 4-of-12 overall while Murray went 5-of-15 and they combined to shoot 3-of-15 from three-point range. One of Young’s two three-pointers was the 1,051th of his career, breaking the franchise record of 1,050 three-pointer by Mookie Blaylock.

Young’s 12 points was his lowest single-game point total of the season (one less than the previous low of 13) while Murray’s 13 was his lowest in his last 13 games. As a team, though, the Hawks shot 40% overall.

“Obviously, we didn’t shoot the ball well, and that could cover up some things, but we just needed to compete more,” Snyder said. “And it’s disappointing because we’ve been doing that.”

5. The Hawks had yet another strong night from third-year forward Jalen Johnson.

He’s averaged 15.6 points and 8.5 rebounds coming into the night and he picked up his 14th double-double of the season.

Stat to know

The Hornets’ 23-point victory was their largest of the season. The previous largest margin of victory was nine points.


“Our approach should have been better collectively just as far as knowing it’s the last game before the break.” -- Jalen Johnson on finding the right mindset for the last game before All-Star Break.

Up Next

The Hawks head into the All-Star break and return to action when Feb 23 at home against the Raptors.