- By JuliaKate E. Culpepper The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
After a comeback against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, the Hawks fell to the Charlotte Hornets 123-110 Wednesday night at Philips Arena in large part to 38 points by Hornets point guard Kemba Walker.
Here are a few observations from the Hawks’ third loss to the Hornets this season:
Walker was unstoppable
A seven-year veteran out of Connecticut, Walker scored a career-high 38, shooting 12-of-20 from the field and 9-of-13 from the 3-point line.
Walker, who scored 18 points in the third quarter, entered Wednesday leading the Hornets with 22.1 points, 5.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game.
“I think we probably got to do more to make it harder on them, do more to impact them just with them feeling us, but they played well,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said.
Dwight Howard scored 20 in his return to Atlanta
Although it was Dwight Howard’s first trip back to Atlanta since being traded in June, Walker dominated the game.
Howard, an Atlanta native, recorded a double-double of 20 points and 12 rebounds in his return to Philips Arena.
While it was evident Howard wanted to come back to Atlanta and get the win, Howard’s demeanor when interacting with Dennis Schroder was amicable and occasionally lighthearted.
“It’s always special,” Howard said after the game, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Steve Hummer. “I love coming home, seeing people that I grew up with, this is where my dream started. It’s always going to be special no matter the outcome of the game, no matter what’s being said. Being at home is always special.”
Schroder has some shoulder pain
Schroder suffered a shoulder injury at some point during Wednesday’s game, but was unsure when or how it happened.
Schroder said his shoulder was sore and he was headed to check it out with the trainer after the game.
“He felt like he could play, he wanted to play and test it. ... I think he competed but I think we’ll know more when I go (back to the locker room) or tomorrow. See how he wakes up,” Budenholzer said.
Schroder finished Wednesday’s loss with 13 points and nine assists.
Twelve third-quarter points by Kent Bazemore got Hawks within one
The Hawks came within one point of the Hornets after trailing by as many as 15 in the first half in large part to 12 third-quarter points by Bazemore.
Marco Belinelli also helped lift the Hawks out of their double-digit deficit with eight third-quarter points.
“I think we started the third quarter well,” Budenholzer said. “I thought it gave us a little boost. We just weren’t able to maintain it.”
After 18 third-quarter points by Walker, the Hawks fell back into a 13-point deficit to trail 97-84 entering the fourth quarter.
Bazemore finished with a team-high of 25 points, followed by Belinelli with 22.
Hornets outscored the Hawks beyond the arc
The Hawks, who entered Wednesday as the league’s eighth-best team in 3-pointers, shot 37.5 beyond the arc, above their season average of 36.9 percent.
The Hornets, however, were better, sinking 53.1 percent.
Schroder said ultimately the defense is what did the Hawks in against the Hornets.
“I mean, you can score, but at the end of the day you still got to get stops and we didn’t do that today,” Schroder said.
Walker hit 9-of-13 of his 3-point attempts on his career night.
“I think (Walker) got some in the pick and roll and it seemed like a lot of scramble situations they’d end up with the ball and it would end up in his hands and he’d make a three. ... They beat us to 50/50 balls and some of those turned into three and scramble situations turned into threes,” Budenholzer said. “They did everything well offensively.”
Prince scored zero, Hawks bench scored 59
While Taurean Prince was held scoreless in his 25 minutes on the floor, the Hawks bench scored 59 points.
Prince missed his only two attempted shots.
Budenholzer said Prince was “fine physically” after the game even though he only took two shots.
“We just got to keep working with him,” Budenholzer said. “He’s a good, young player.”
Hawks got outrebounded and gave up a triple-double
The Hawks were outrebounded by the Hornets 42-29.
Howard, who entered Wednesday averaging a team-high of 12.7 rebounds per game, led the Hornets with 12 rebounds followed by Nicolas Batum with 11. Batum finished with a triple-double of 10 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
Hornets led 64-52 at the half
After trailing by as many as 15 during the first half, the Hawks trailed the Hornets 64-52 at halftime.
The Hornets, who averaged one of the league’s worst field goal percentages of 44 percent entering Wednesday’s game, shot 53.3 percent from the field and were 7-of-12 from the 3-point line in the first half. The Hornets averaged 35.3 percent from the 3-point line entering Wednesday, 23rd in the league.
Howard had 12 first half points and Walker had 10.
The Hawks, by comparison, shot 51.3 percent from the field and were 6-of-15 beyond the arc in the first half.
John Collins did this
The small crowd at Philips Arena on Wednesday couldn’t contain their excitement for this crazy first-quarter dunk by John Collins.
Collins, who had 3 dunks, finished Wednesday’s game with 12 points and three rebounds.
The rookie from Wake Forest entered Wednesday leading all first-year players in total offensive rebounds (123).
Hornets shot 65 percent from the field in first quarter
There weren’t too many shots that didn’t go in for for the Hornets in the first quarter of Wednesday’s matchup.
The Hornets shot 13-of-20 from the field and 4-of-7 beyond the arc, totaling 35 first-quarter points.
Despite a scoring surge led by Belinelli’s seven points late in the first quarter, the Hornets let the Hawks 35-28 to end the first quarter after leading by as much as 11.
Next up: The Hawks travel to Boston on Friday to play the Celtics at 7:30 p.m. at Boston’s TD Garden.