The Hawks saw the return of Trae Young on Wednesday, but they were judicious with his minutes and rested him in the fourth quarter. They lost to the Hornets 115-114 at State Farm Arena.

Here are five observations:

1. Young returned to the Hawks rotation after missing the past 22 games following surgery to repair a tear of the radial collateral ligament (RCL) in the fifth finger of his left hand. Young had surgery in February and returned to practice and contact Monday.

“It feels good,” Young said. “My hand feels good. Thanks to working with Mo (Hawks hand specialist Mojca Herman) for the past couple weeks or months. And so it’s been fun, but it feels good. "

The Hawks guard played on a minutes restriction, wearing bands on his ring and pinkie fingers to help give him some added strength on his left hand. With 10:25 to play in the first quarter, Young drove into the lane on the weak side and hit a scooping layup with his left hand.

In his return, Young picked his spots wisely and had a perfect night from the floor where he made all five of his attempts and he knocked down both of his attempts from 3.

He ended the night after playing 21 minutes and scoring 14 points.

2. The Hawks have had some strong nights shooting the ball since they returned from the All-Star break, making 37% of their shots from deep. A lot of that has come with some of their rotational players like Garrison Mathews making shots from outside.

On Wednesday, Mathews hit the minimum qualifying number of shots to see his name etched on the 3-point percentage leaderboard.

With 9:52 to play in the first quarter, Mathews caught a pass from Young at the top of the key and without hesitation knocked down his 82nd 3-pointer this season. He entered Wednesday’s game 81-of-176 and after making 3-pointer number 82, he officially leads the league in 3-point shooting percentage ahead of Grayson Allen and Luke Kennard.

“I think one of the things is, he’s such a competitor, and, the way he’s been able to channel that and really maintain his focus, I think that’s huge,” Hawks coach Quin Snyder said.

3. After waiting nearly nine months since the Hawks traded up to draft him in the 2023 NBA draft, Mo Gueye scored his first NBA bucket. With 3:19 to play in the first quarter, Gueye got into position to help with contesting a layup from Hornets forward Miles Bridges.

He then ran the floor and got rewarded on the other end with a pass from Dylan Windler on the wing for a 3.

Gueye is the final member of the Hawks rookie class to record their first career basket. The Hawks rookie forward has missed much of this season with injuries, nursing a right lower back stress fracture, then a UCL sprain.

4. With the Hawks playing such heavy minutes the night before, as well as leading the Hornets by 15 at the end of the third, four of the team’s five starters did not return for the fourth quarter. The Hawks, instead opted to rest Young, Mathews, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Clint Capela for the final 12 minutes.

It relied on the team’s young players to finish out the night but the Hornets cut into the lead quickly and eventually took a 109-107 lead on a pair of Grant Williams free throws.

The young Hawks briefly weathered the storm with Trent Forrest scoring three straight buckets to push them out to a 114-111 lead. But the Hornets got the better of them with free throws from Brandon Miller and a transition layup from Bridges that put them ahead for good.

5. The Hawks dropped further behind the Bulls in the Play-In Tournament, all but sealing their spot as the 10th seed. They’ve lost four straight games and sit 1-1/2 games behind the Bulls.

With two games remaining in the regular season, the Hawks could still technically catch the Bulls, who have three games remaining.

Stat to know

234 - Bogdan Bogdanovic broke Trae Young’s franchise record for 3-pointers in a season after he made his 234th with 7:57 to play in the third quarter. He now has 235.


“He’s trying to play the right way. He’s trying to guard and if you throw yourself into those things, you know, some of those nerves just kind of settle and you can get out of your head.” -- Snyder on Mo Gueye

Up next

The Hawks head on the road for their final two games of the regular season. Their first stop is in Minneapolis to face the Timberwolves on Friday.