Charlotte Hornets

Kemba Walker’s shot blocked late, Hornets fall to Hawks, losers of previous 10

Charlotte Hornets coach on Malik Monk’s recent struggles.

Charlotte Hornets guard Malik Monk didn’t play Friday in the loss in Oklahoma City. Coach James Borrego on Monk working through his recent struggles.
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Charlotte Hornets guard Malik Monk didn’t play Friday in the loss in Oklahoma City. Coach James Borrego on Monk working through his recent struggles.

Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins blocked a drive by Kemba Walker on the Charlotte Hornets’ final possession to preserve a 124-123 victory at State Farm Arena.

The victory broke a 10-game losing streak for the Hawks; the Hornets lost their second in a row to drop to 9-10.

Walker finished with 22 points but had one of his rougher shooting nights this season, making seven of his 23 attempts. Hornets guard Malik Monk matched his career high with 26 points.

Former Wake Forest star Collins gave the Hawks a three-point lead with about 1:30 left on a dunk. Walker replied with two free throws made, off a foul by Collins with 1:16 left.

Hawks rookie Trae Young pulled up from 32 feet, missing a 3-pointer, to give the Hornets possession, and Walker nailed a 3 for a one-point lead.

Young drove on the resulting possession, missing a layup and giving the Hornets back the ball. Walker dribbled baseline, drawing a triple-team. Walker found rookie Miles Bridges along the perimeter, but he couldn’t get the ball to the rim in time to avoid a shot-clock violation with 15.4 seconds remaining.

Hawks veteran guard Kent Bazemore, guarded by Dwayne Bacon, got to the rim for a layup and a one-point lead with 4.6 seconds left.

Three who mattered

John Collins: He finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds, making 11-of-16 from the field.

Marvin Williams: One game after scoring his 10,000th NBA point in Oklahoma City, Williams made four of his first five 3-point attempts Sunday.

Malik Monk: The way he has struggled of late, that strong first half had to have been a relief.

Observations

The Hornets’ had their best offensive first quarter of the season, generating 43 points. Marvin Williams made 3s on the Hornets’ first two baskets and it established a pattern: Charlotte finished the quarter 7-of-11 from 3.

Monk didn’t play at all in Friday’s loss in Oklahoma City, reflective of what’s been a shooting slump. Monk entered the game late in the first quarter, and Walker found him on a drive-and-kick wide-open above the lane. Monk swishing the resulting 3 had to be a confidence boost.

With Tony Parker missing his second consecutive game with bruised ribs, rookie Devonte Graham again got significant minutes as Walker’s backup at point guard. Coach James Borrego said pregame he hasn’t seen anything in Graham’s performance or demeanor suggesting he’s not up to this.

The Hawks trailed by only one at halftime. As good as the Hornets were offensively in the first half, their defense — particularly in transition — was poor. Atlanta scored 14 fast-break points before halftime.

Worth mentioning

Parker was on the active roster Sunday, but coach James Borrego said pre-game he did not intend to play the veteran guard, who is healing from bruised ribs suffered Nov. 19 against the Boston Celtics.

Forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist missed his fifth consecutive game with a sprained right ankle. Borrego said he his hopeful Kidd-Gilchrist can play Monday against the Milwaukee Bucks. Kidd-Gilchrist is clearly progressing, because he was listed Saturday as questionable, rather than out, going into the game at Atlanta.

Hawks coach .Lloyd Pierce chose to start rookie Kevin Huerter over veteran Kent Bazemore Sunday.

They said it

“He looks like a pro out there. I’m very comfortable with him out there. He looked poised confident and ran our stuff” well – Borrego on Graham, a second-round pick who the Hornet acquired in a draft-night trade with the Hawks.

“We’re still day-to-day. He had a good workout (Saturday). We feel good about his progress so potentially we could see him (Monday)” – Borrego on Kidd-Gilchrist.

Report card

C OFFENSE: The strong 3-point shooting wasn’t balanced by much in the lane.

F DEFENSE: The Hawks, in the bottom third of the NBA in scoring and every major shooting stat, filled it up both from 3 and in the paint.

C COACHING: Managing injuries in the first game of a back-to-back is tough.



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