Hornets try to exact revenge from Hawks

CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte Hornets will seek to turn the tables back on the Atlanta Hawks when the Southeast Division rivals meet for a third time Wednesday night.

The teams split their first two meetings, each winning at home.

Charlotte got a leg up Nov. 6 with a 113-102 victory, with Kemba Walker outscoring point guard rival Trae Young 29-18 and the Hornets outscoring the Hawks 39-18 on 3-pointers.

Neither Young (18 points again) nor the Hawks (48 points on 3-pointers) completely caught up in either category when the clubs met again Sunday in Atlanta, but both closed the gap enough to allow the Hawks to escape with a 124-123 win.

Walker (22) scored seven fewer points than in the first meeting, while the Hornets (54 points on 3-pointers) outscored the Hawks by only six from beyond the arc in the rematch.

On top of the revenge motivation this time around, the Hornets have at least a couple of advantages Wednesday.

They have won three straight at home, including an eye-catching, 110-107 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday.

They’ll be rested for the Atlanta rematch, while the Hawks will be playing the second night of a road back-to-back, having been extended the full 48 minutes to outlast Miami in a 115-113 victory on Tuesday night.

Other than the win, if there was a positive for the Hawks, it was that five reserves played at least 18 minutes in the team effort. The Atlanta backups combined to contribute 48 points to the win, with Kent Bazemore accounting for 12 of the 48 in 26 minutes.

It was the second consecutive significant performance by Bazemore off the bench, as he hit the game-winning layup in Sunday’s win over Charlotte.

Bazemore has agreed to give up his starting spot while he fully recovers from a sprained left ankle, a gesture that’s been applauded by Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce.

“We have a lot of young guys, and as a veteran you’ve got to give yourself up sometimes,” the coach praised of Bazemore. “It’s a good opportunity to shake things up. We’d been through 19 games, and it just wasn’t working. Sacrifice yourself sometimes, and look, the basketball gods took care of me.”

One thing that will be different about the Hornets since the Hawks saw them three days ago is the presence of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

The defensive-minded forward missed Sunday’s game with a sprained ankle. It was his sixth straight absence, during which Charlotte went 2-4 and allowed 114.8 points per game.

With Kidd-Gilchrist playing 18 minutes of the bench Monday, the Hornets held the high-scoring Bucks to 107 points on 41.1-percent shooting.

Kidd-Gilchrist contributed seven points, seven rebounds and two blocks.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence we have that type of effort tonight with him back in the lineup,” Hornets coach James Borrego gushed to reporters afterward. “We felt his absence the last four or five games.”

No doubt, a big difference in the first two meetings was the Walker-Young matchup.

Walker hit 12-of-22 from the field and helped shut out Young from 3-point range (0-for-7) in the first meeting.

In the rematch, it was Young who got the better of the defensive numbers, helping harass Walker into 7-for-23 shooting while also finding time to hit four of 10 3-point attempts.