Dwight Howard has a little extra for the Hawks

Dwight Howard has a little bit extra for the Hawks.

The Atlanta native who spent last season with his hometown team is putting up impressive numbers this season – especially against his former mates.

The Hornets center has led his new team to three wins against the Hawks this season, by an average of 14 points. He averaged 19.3 points and 12.1 rebounds, three points and two rebounds better than his season numbers. He had a double-double in each win.

The Hawks and Hornets met for the final time on Thursday.

“I’m sure there is,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said when asked if he sensed a different Howard. “I know he’s playing really well right now coming into this game. Any time players are going against some of their former teammates or teams, there is probably a little extra.”

Want additional proof?

Howard has made 18 of his 27 free throws against the Hawks.

Howard stated his feelings pretty clearly before his first game in Atlanta after the trade, a 123-110 win on Jan. 31.

“I want to kill them,” Howard told the Charlotte Observer. “I’ll leave it at that.”

Overall, Howard is averaging 16.2 points, 12.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks this season. He is fourth in the NBA with 41 double-doubles.

The Hawks traded Howard to the Hornets last offseason in one of the first moves by new general manager Travis Schlenk. The Hawks signed Howard to a three-year, $70.5 million deal the previous summer.

Therein might be some motivation.

“This is the best year he’s had since his second year in Houston,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “A lot of it goes back to last summer. I think he had a phenomenal summer. He worked extremely hard, both on the court and in the weight room. He came back in phenomenal shape.

Howard is averaging 25.2 points and 9.2 rebounds over the past five games, including two 30-point games.

And here come the Hawks.

The Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy graduate will make his final appearance in his hometown this season. The Hornets are out of the playoff picture with a 29-39 record.

“Everybody in the league has someone that they want to beat when they come back,” Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon said.

No matter the result of the final matchup between the Hawks and Hornets this season, Howard will have bragging rights.