In the final second of the game, the Hawks had a 118-117 lead and just needed a stop to hold on for the win. But the Hawks fouled Terry Rozier, an 84% free-throw shooter, on a 3-point attempt. Rozier buried all three of his shots to give the Hornets a 120-118 lead.
Then the Hawks couldn’t execute their final play, despite burning their final two timeouts.
2. With a chance to pick up their sixth straight win, the Hawks ran out of juice in the second half. Despite holding on to an eight-point lead heading into the fourth, the Hawks stopped moving the ball and shots stopped falling.
They had just four assists in the fourth quarter after their ball movement in the first half helped them get out to a 16-point lead.
Instead of finding the hot hand in the second half, the Hawks reverted back to old habits. Unlike the previous five games, the Hawks stopped attacking the rim and finding the right shots, settling on the perimeter. They went 6-of-13 from 3 in the second half.
“We were starting to turn the ball over,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “I thought we started to settle on the perimeter and we really weren’t getting downhill and attacking. You know, settling from the perimeter and the jump shots weren’t falling tonight.”
3. The Hawks’ defense in the third quarter proved too porous as the Hornets roared back and cut the lead to single digits. The Hawks could not get a stop, allowing the Hornets to make four of their first five shots before they called a timeout.
But the Hornets did not stop when both teams returned and continued their 21-9 run that cut the Hawks’ lead to just seven with 5:07 remaining in the third.
Then Rozier buried back-to-back 3s before forward JT Thor split free throws to pull Charlotte within 85-82 with 2:21 left in the period.
The third undercut the Hawks’ strong start to the night where they built a 19-point lead at halftime. They held the Hornets under 50 in the first half but they struggled to close out, allowing 13-of-34 from 3. Rozier hit seven of the Hornets’ 3-pointers, a season-high.
4. Though the Hawks collapsed in the second half, they got rolling early leaning on the hot hands of Trae Young, Dejounte Murray and De’Andre Hunter. All three players dropped close to 20 points by the time they headed into the locker room after two quarters.
The Hawks put up 65 points by the end of the first half after shooting over 60% from the floor and making five of their 12 3-point attempts.
In each of those last five games leading into the Saturday’s game, the Hawks had scored 65 or more points in the first half. They’ve only held leads of 15 or more in two of them.
“The ball has energy,” Hunter said. “So obviously, when the ball is moving, you know guys play harder. You know, guys play harder on defense and offense. So yeah, that’s pretty much it.”
5. Turnovers hurt the Hawks on Saturday after they gave up 18 for 21 points. The Hawks average just 12.9 turnovers per game, but they struggled to take care of the ball, especially early in the game.
They had just seven turnovers in Friday’s win over the Knicks and had six in the first quarter alone Saturday.
Stat to know
18 - De’Andre Hunter scored 18 points in the first half following a 13-point second quarter. It’s his first career half with at least 18 points on 75%-or-better shooting from the floor.
“They played faster and made some shots. They played really fast, made a lot of threes. It was good. They pushed the pace on us and that got them back in the game.” – Trae Young
The Hawks play the Bulls on Monday at the United Center in Chicago.