The Hawks never had a chance.
The Charlotte Hornets (27-28) stomped into State Farm Arena Saturday night, opening with a 46-point first quarter and holding a wire-to-wire lead over the listless Hawks (18-37) in the 129-120 win.
“Any time you give a team the confidence and opportunies they had in the first quarter, it’s hard to defend. You feel like you’re chasing around the entire game,” said Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce.
Kemba Walker (37), Marvin Williams (27) and Jeremy Lamb (24) all went over 20 points for Charlotte.
Trae Young picked up a double-double with 20 points and 11 assists in the loss. Dewayne Dedmon hit four 3-pointers en route to 14 points on the night. John Collins had 21 points but just 5 rebounds.
“It was definitely a weirder game. We are flowing offensively, but we are still trying to find our way defensively,” Collins said.
The Hawks were down big almost immediately thanks to an unconscious first quarter shooting performance from the Hornets. Each of Charlotte’s five starters hit a shot in the first five possessions, while the team went all the way to the 7:09 mark before it missed its first shot.
Walker, Williams, Lamb and Nicolas Batum all made multiple 3-pointers in the first period while the team shot a scorching 75 percent from the field. The Hornets limited mistakes as well; they recorded only two turnovers and two fouls in the 46-point first.
Things could’ve been much worse for the Hawks, who played a fine first quarter in their own right. The score was 46-31 but stellar play from Young kept the Hawks in shouting distance as he dished out four assists.
Atlanta closed the gap in the second quarter and cut the lead to five points by halftime. The Hornets still hit some shots, but cooled down considerably as the Hawks continued playing efficient offense to tighten up the score line. Both teams shot over 50 percent in the first half.
Charlotte didn’t let the Hawks breathe for long. In the third quarter, Walker sparked a 16-5 run with a trio of 3-pointers, two of which were contested looks at the end of the shot clock. The final one of the three was on a long rebound after he missed his original attempt, and it proved to be a backbreaker for the Hawks. By the end of the third period, the Hornets’ lead ballooned to 20 points.
The Hawks got the lead down to as few as eight points in the fourth, but the threat of a comeback was muted by an inability to string good offensive possessions together without turning the ball over.
The loss snapped a seven-game win streak for the Hawks at home against Charlotte. It was the Hawks’ second consecutive loss at State Farm after going 4-3 on their two-week road trip while Atlanta hosted the Super Bowl.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.