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Mar 22, 2024 3:14 pm

Hawks, Hornets meet in clash of injury-riddled teams

brandon miller hornets

The Atlanta Hawks will try to improve their situation in the Eastern Conference playoff race when they host the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday.

The Hawks, still playing without All-Star guard Trae Young, stand as the No. 10 seed and hold a 4 1/2-game lead over the Brooklyn Nets for the final spot in the league’s play-inournament. They trail the No. 9 Chicago Bulls by 3 1/2 games with 13 games remaining.

The Hawks (30-39) have lost five of their past six games and went 1-4 on a season-long 11-day road trip that ended with a 128-115 loss at Phoenix on Thursday.

Charlotte is struggling, too. The Hornets (17-52) have lost 10 of their past 12 and have dropped three in a row after Tuesday’s 112-92 loss at Orlando. Charlotte will be making its third stop on a four-game road trip.

In addition to Young, who has been out since Feb. 23 following a hand injury and ultimately surgery, the Hawks have been without Saddiq Bey (torn left ACL), Jalen Johnson (sprained right ankle) and rookie guard Kobe Bufkin (left big toe sprain). Backup center Onyeka Okongwu returned for the last two games of the road trip after missing 13 games with a sprained left toe.

Despite not having the entire roster available, Atlanta coach Quin Snyder has remained impressed by the determination with which the team has played.

“I think we competed the whole game (against Phoenix), which is the most important thing,” Snyder said. “They shot over 50 percent from three as a team, which is tough to handle, especially against a team that’s also so good from mid-range.”

Atlanta will get no sympathy from Charlotte, which is playing without LaMelo Ball, Seth Curry and Cody Martin — all with ankle injuruies — along with Bryce McGowens (right knee strain) and Mark Williams (back).

Their absence has allowed rookies Brandon Miller and Vasilije Micic to have a larger role against Orlando. Miller scored 21 with seven rebounds and Micic had 20.

Miller is averaging 16.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists. The 21-point effort against the Heat was a positive sign for Miller, who had totaled just 30 points in the three previous games.

Milic, acquired from Oklahoma City at the trade deadline, has been a key offensive contributor this month. He’s scored in double figures in 10 straight games and surpassed 20 double figures four times this month and he’s averaged 16 points and 5.3 assists.

On the season, those averages are 6.7 and 3.6, respectively.

“We play a style that suits me well, with a lot of movement and passing, and I try to fit in well,” Micic said. “We have a lot of talented scorers on the team. The key is to find the best option in the best position.”

This will be the third game of the season between the two teams. The Hornets won the first two meetings in Charlotte, 116-110 on Oct. 25 and 122-99 on Feb. 14. The final game will be April 10 in Atlanta.

–Field Level Media

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