Five observations from the Hawks’ 107-84 loss to the Hornets

So much for building on the Bulls win. The Hawks looked more like the team that lost back-to-back games to the Knicks to start the new year Wednesday night than one coming off a victory Saturday over the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 Bulls.

After riding 33 points from Al Horford Saturday night, the Hawks got just two points from their gifted center while losing 107-84 to the Hornets, a team that had lost seven in a row coming into the game. Horford was 1-for-4 shooting in his lowest offensive output in almost five years, since Charlotte held him to 2 points on April 13, 2011.

The Hawks (23-16) lost their seventh game to team with a losing record. They had only nine such losses all last season. They had won 15 of 18 in the series with Charlotte prior to Wednesday’s game.

The Hawks trailed by 15 points midway through the first quarter, didn’t get a bucket from Horford until four minutes into the third quarter, and watched Charlotte stretch the lead to as many as 35 in the fourth quarter with Jeff Teague, Horford and the other Hawks starters watching from the bench.

The Hornets (18-20) are playing without stars Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (shoulder) and Al Jefferson (knee) but didn’t show many deficiencies Wednesday behind 23 points from Kemba Walker for their first win in three meetings with the Hawks.

Three key players

Paul Millsap: He was the only Hawks player in double-digit scoring. Millsap had 20 points in 27 minutes on 7-for-12 shooting.

Kent Bazemore: He led the Hawks in scoring in each of their first two games against the Hornets this season with 19 points and 20 points respectively but settled for 9 points Wednesday on 3-for-9 shooting.

Cody Zeller: The Hornets are playing without Jefferson but Zeller is finding a home in the pivot and showed it with 19 points on 6-of-10 shots from the floor to go with 10 rebounds.

Five observations:

1. These Hawks are making a name as a perennially slow-starting team. They found themselves down 15 points in the first six minutes, making just 1 of their first 11 shots before Millsap drove the lane for a basket with 5:11 left in the first quarter to cut it to 17-4. Thanks to Millsap’s eight points in 10 minutes the Hawks worked their way back to within 20-19.

2. The burst of energy didn’t last, and the Hawks made just one of their first eight shots in the second quarter while the Hornets went on a 12-0 run. The Hawks came no closer than eight points in the third quarter while staying double-digits down for most of the second and third quarters.

3. Coming off a 33-point game against the Bulls, Horford did not score his first basket Wednesday until 7:59 remained in the third quarter and that was only the third shot he took. Horford spent a quiet first half, taking only one shot, committing three fouls, three turnovers and collecting one rebound in 17 minutes.

4. The Hornets are playing without some star power but Walker is still the player who makes them go, and the Hawks still struggled to find an answer for him. Walker led the Hornets with 23 points in 26 minutes on 9-of-13 shooting from the floor to go with five assists.

5. Millsap might have been the only Hawk who showed up to play. Kyle Korver tried to get something going with shots on three straight trips down the floor early in the second half but he made just one of them – a 3-pointer to cut Charlotte’s lead to eight points. Teague made just three shots through the first three quarters. Dennis Schroder was 3-for-13.