NBA Play-In: Hawks and Pelicans keep playoff hopes alive

Hornets’ Miles Bridges apologises for tossing mouthpiece at fan

Atlanta Hawks 132-103 Charlotte Hornets

Trae Young scored 14 of his 24 points in the third quarter as the Atlanta Hawks pulled away to rout the visiting Charlotte Hornets 132-103 in the Eastern Conference play-in event on Wednesday night.

Atlanta goes to Cleveland on Friday night for the next phase of the play-in tournament. The winner between the Hawks and the Cavaliers will claim a playoff spot as the East's No. 8 seed, moving on to face the top-seeded Miami Heat in the opening round of the postseason.

DeAndre Hunter put up 16 of his 22 points in the third period for the ninth-seeded Hawks. Danilo Gallinari posted 18 points, Clint Capela put up 15 points and 17 rebounds and Kevin Huerter and Bogdan Bogdanovic both had 13 points.

The 10th-seeded Hornets bowed out with a road game in the same round for the second year in a row. Charlotte has not made the playoffs since the 2015-16 season.

LaMelo Ball paced Charlotte with 26 points, while Terry Rozier had 21 points, P.J. Washington finished with 17 points and Miles Bridges added 12 points. Bridges was ejected with 6:39 to play.

The Hawks made 16 of their 32 attempts from 3-point range, though Young was just 1-for-7. That was part of the team’s 52.1 percent shooting overall from the field.

Charlotte shot 37.8 per cent from the floor, including 13 of 41 (31.7 per cent) from long distance.

Atlanta built a 102-76 lead through three quarters after posting a 42-24 advantage in the third quarter.

In a span of less than four minutes, the Hawks went from up 70-62 to 88-67, with Hunter racking up 12 points during that spurt.

The Hornets cut a 51-38 deficit to 58-52 and had a chance to pull closer in the waning seconds of the first half. Instead, Young drained a jumper in transition for a 60-52 edge at the break.

Ball and Young were both 3-for-13 from the field in the first half.

The Hawks led 32-23 after the first quarter despite Young posting only four points on 1-for-9 shooting from the field.

Hornets forward Miles Bridges apologised after throwing his mouthpiece into the crowd and hitting a young fan. During the

Hornets’ 132-103 loss against the host Atlanta Hawks in Eastern Conference play-in game, Bridges was ejected with 6:39 remaining in the fourth quarter after receiving two technical fouls.

As he made his way to the locker room, a nearby fan was loudly taunting him. Bridges flung his mouthpiece toward the fan, but it wound up hitting a girl two seats over. The girl told the Charlotte Observer she is 16 years old, though she declined to give her name.

Bridges was contrite when addressing the media later. “I was aiming for the guy that was screaming at me and it hit a little girl,” Bridges said. “So that’s definitely unacceptable on my part and I take full responsibility.”

New Orleans Pelicans 113-103 San Antonio Spurs

CJ McCollum scored 32 points and Brandon Ingram added 27 as the host New Orleans Pelicans defeated the San Antonio Spurs 113-103 in a Western Conference play-in game Wednesday night.

Jonas Valanciunas had 22 points and 14 rebounds and rookies Herbert Jones and Jose Alvarado added 12 each for the ninth-seeded Pelicans, who will visit the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers in another elimination game Friday night.

The winner of that contest will earn the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference playoffs and a date with the Phoenix Suns in the first round.

Devin Vassell scored 23 points, Dejounte Murray and Jakob Poeltl had 16 each, Keldon Johnson put up 15 and Josh Richardson and Lonnie Walker IV contributed 12 apiece for the 10th-seeded Spurs, whose fourth consecutive loss ended their season.

Jones made two 3-pointers as New Orleans extended its 11-point halftime lead to 77-60 midway through the third quarter.

Vassell sank two free throws before Valanciunas made four consecutive Pelicans baskets to help them expand the edge to 85-64.

Johnson responded with three consecutive San Antonio baskets to help trim the deficit to 85-71, but New Orleans held a 92-75 lead at the end of the third quarter.

The Pelicans scored the first four points of the fourth quarter, but Johnson had six points to lead a 16-1 run that got San Antonio within 97-91 with 5:18 left.

However, three consecutive baskets -- by Ingram, Valanciunas, then Ingram again – gave New Orleans a 103-91 advantage with 3:29 left.

Ingram, who missed the last three games of the regular season because of hamstring tightness, scored 11 points as the Pelicans took an 18-14 lead.

San Antonio tied the score twice before McCollum made two free throws and Jones beat the buzzer with a layup, giving New Orleans a 26-22 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Walker’s 3-pointer started the second-quarter scoring before McCollum recorded nine points to help the Pelicans open a 40-30 lead.

Vassell made two of the Spurs’ four 3-pointers as the visitors closed within 47-46.

McCollum scored 10 during a 14-4 closing run that gave him 27 first-half points and New Orleans a 61-50 halftime lead. – Reuters