Listless Atlanta Hawks lose to Charlotte Hornets 109-91

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 20: Kemba Walker
CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 20: Kemba Walker /

The Atlanta Hawks winning streak to start the 2017-18 season ended at one last night as the Charlotte Hornets cruised to an 18-point victory.

After leading by 20 in the first half, 40-20, the Hawks looked to be in control going into the third quarter. How swiftly NBA fate can swing. The Hornets got hot, the Hawks went dry ice cold and without blinking the Hornets had gone on an unimaginable 24-0 run.

There was no comeback in the cards on this night, as the Hornets were never remotely close to giving up their lead due to stellar performances from Kemba Walker, Frank Kaminsky and, yes, even our old pal Dwight Howard.

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Still, a few Hawks had nice games. Dennis Schröder continued his hot streak – leading the team in minutes (31) and points (25) for the second straight game to start the season. As expected, Dennis’s role is huge and he definitely loomed large offensively in this game. Schröder also showed tenacious defense, specifically at the start of the 4th quarter after the Hornets’ decisive 24-0 run.

The first play of the 4th quarter saw highly touted rookie Malik Monk attempt to bring the ball up, but Schröder was having none of that. He defended him every inch, forcing Monk into a turnover, which was gladly gobbled up by Bazemore on the break, leading to a dunk.

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This sort of hard-nosed, pesky defense is something that Dennis should be able to conjure on a daily basis with his length and athleticism – and defensive effort is contagious, so Schröder’s leadership on that front could prove invaluable to the rookies and sophomores.

Speaking of younger Hawks, rookie John Collins had a forgettable second career game. Logging only 15 minutes and 5 points, Collins was a -12 and fouled out in the 4th quarter.

Taurean Prince also showed some youthful mistakes, most notably swiping at Dwight Howard’s ham-hock shoulders while Howard was going in for an uncontested jam. Those silly fouls can doom a club and are easily avoided. Let’s chalk it up to a teachable moment for Prince.

Marco Belinelli returned to Earth, shooting only 2 for 13 with 5 points. His out-of-control drives and questionable shot selection, while exciting when things are going well, wear a bit thin when shots aren’t falling.

Due to the blowout nature of much of the 4th quarter, all 13 Hawks players that were active managed to find playing time, including second-round pick Tyler Dorsey and offseason pickup Nicolas Brussino, neither of whom were able to score.

Two major areas in which the Hornets bested the Hawks were rebounding and foul shooting.

With Dwight Howard in the middle, the Hornets outrebounded the undersized Hawks 57-38. Of more concern was the 12-6 offensive rebound margin, as Dwight was able to bully a few of his former teammates to the tune of 20 points and 15 rebounds. Howard ended up second in plus/minus at +34 behind only his teammate Kemba Walker.

Speaking of Walker (+35), he fully looked the part of an All-Star, dominating in the second half (a half in which the Hornets outscored the Hawks 60-35), to the tune of 26 points, 9 assists and a whopping 12 free throw attempts.

Next: Dennis Schröder impresses in season opener against the Dallas Mavericks

The Hawks will be back in action this afternon as they face off against the Brooklyn Nets and Hawks alumni Kenny Atkinson and DeMarre Carroll at 3:00 p.m. EST.