NBA play-in: Trae Young leads Hawks to rout of Hornets; Pelicans beat Spurs

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young drives to the basket past Charlotte Hornets forward P.J. Washington.
Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) drives to the basket past Charlotte Hornets forward P.J. Washington (25) during the first half of an NBA play-in game on Wednesday in Atlanta.
(John Bazemore / Associated Press)

Trae Young bounced back from a sluggish start to score 24 points and De’Andre Hunter led a third-quarter surge that carried the Atlanta Hawks to a 132-103 rout of the Charlotte Hornets in an Eastern Conference play-in game Wednesday night.

The Hawks, who finished ninth in the East after a surprising run to the conference final a year ago, will travel to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers on Friday night.

The winner claims the No. 8 seed in the East and will face the top-seeded Miami Heat in the opening round of the playoffs.


The season is over for the Hornets, who were overwhelmed in the 9-10 play-in game for the second year in a row and haven’t made the playoffs since 2016.

All five Atlanta starters scored in double figures, as did Bogdan Bogdanovic off the bench. It was Hunter who came up big in the decisive third period, breaking out with 16 points after being held to three in the first half.

Hunter finished with 22 points, Danilo Gallinari added 18 and Clint Capela had 15. Kevin Huerter and Bogdanovic chipped in with 13 apiece.

The Hornets closed the regular season strong and felt as if they had a good chance to win a couple of play-in games on the road. But those hopes came crashing down against their I-85 rival.

LaMelo Ball led with 26 points but made only seven of 25 shots.

The Hawks led by as many as 13 in the first half before settling for a 60-52 advantage at the break. Charlotte had a bit of momentum in the closing minutes of the half, but it sure didn’t carry over to the third.

The Hawks outscored the Hornets 42-24 during that 12-minute barrage, hitting 16 of 24 shots, and led 102-76 heading to the final period.


With the Hornets double teaming at every opportunity, Young made only one of nine shots in the opening quarter and three of 13 in the first half.

But his teammates found plenty of open looks and made the Hornets pay dearly.

Charlotte should’ve known what kind of night it would be on its way to State Farm Arena.

The Hornets’ chartered bus was blocked by a freight train that stopped on a crossing near the downtown sports complex. The bus had to turn around and take a different route to the arena, delaying Charlotte’s arrival for pregame warmups.

It didn’t get much better once the game tipped off.

The Hornets’ frustration boiled over with about 6 1/2 minutes to go when Miles Bridges complained so vehemently about a goaltending call that he picked up two quick technicals and was ejected.

Pelicans 113, Spurs 103

New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum goes to the basket against San Antonio Spurs center Jakob Poeltl.
New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum (3) goes to the basket against San Antonio Spurs center Jakob Poeltl (25) in the first half of a play-in basketball game in New Orleans on Wednesday.
(Gerald Herbert / Associated Press)

NEW ORLEANS — CJ McCollum scored 27 of his 32 points in the first half, Brandon Ingram shook off foul trouble to add 27 points and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the San Antonio Spurs 113-103 on Wednesday night in a Western Conference play-in game.


The Pelicans, who finished ninth in the West after starting the season 3-16, will play the Clippers at Arena on Friday night, with the winner getting the eighth seed and a spot against the top-seeded Phoenix Suns in the first round. The Clippers lost three of four games to the Pelicans this season.

The Pelicans seemed headed to a rout, leading 96-75 with 10:39 left, but the 10th-seeded Spurs used a 16-1 run over the next 5:25 to cut it to 97-91. The Pelicans missed seven consecutive shots during the run.

Ingram made a pair of soft jumpers in the lane and Jonas Valanciunas added a short jumper to put New Orleans back on top, 103-91. Valaciunas had 22 points and 14 rebounds.

Devin Vassell led San Antonio with 23 points. Dejounte Murray had 16 points on five-for-19 shooting.

After Ingram went to the bench with three fouls 5:17 before halftime, McCollum carried the Pelicans offensively. In a 14-4 run over the final 3:36 of the half, McCollum made two three-pointers and pierced the San Antonio defense for two finger-roll layups on strong drives into the lane as New Orleans built a 61-50 lead.

McCollum made 10 of his first 12 shots, including two of three from long range, despite drawing consistent double teams.