Hawks aiming to ride momentum into Charlotte
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The Atlanta Hawks will look to ride the momentum created by a generally successful homestand when they make a one-day trip to Charlotte to face the Hornets on Friday night.
The Hawks went 3-3 on their just completed homestand, with wins over San Antonio, New Orleans and Utah in the last five games.
They've even won their most recent road game, toppling the Denver Nuggets 110-97 on Jan. 10.
It's all part of a feel-good month for the Hawks, whose John Collins was selected to participate in the Rising Stars showcase during the NBA All-Star Game festivities in February in Los Angeles.
"(This) is truly a blessing," the rookie said Wednesday night after he had 13 points and 16 rebounds in a 108-93 home loss to Toronto.
"This is something I've been working for all year. It will be fun."
Collins, the No. 19 pick in last June's draft, has been the Hawks' second leading rebounder this season at 7.1 per game to go with 10.7 points.
Collins was one of 11 rookies selected to play in the game. Twelve of the 18 players drafted ahead of him were not picked.
The 20-year-old was playing in just his second NBA game when he fouled out of Atlanta's 109-91 loss at Charlotte in October in just 15 minutes. He also had five points, two rebounds and two blocked shots in those 15 minutes.
That defeat propelled the Hawks into an eight-game losing streak that has had them at or near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings ever since.
Charlotte's Kemba Walker scored 26 points and Dwight Howard had a 20-point, 15-rebound double-double in the win.
The Hornets and Hawks will be meeting for the second time this season.
It also will mark the second time Howard will go up against a team he helped take to the playoffs last season with a 43-39 record.
He was dealt to Charlotte last June for Marco Belinelli and Miles Plumlee, with the teams also swapping second-round picks.
Statistically, he has done better for the Hornets (15.6 points per game, 12.7 rebounds) than the Hawks (13.5, 12.7).
The earlier double-double against Atlanta was one of 28 he has posted this season. He ranks fifth in the NBA in that category.
He had 22 points and 16 rebounds, his sixth consecutive double-double, in Wednesday's 101-96 home loss to New Orleans.
Hornets coach Steve Clifford found himself gushing over the 32-year-old Howard after he had outscored (22-16) and outrebounded (16-13) All-Star selection DeMarcus Cousins in the loss.
"It's easy to forget this is a guy that had had significant injury issues," the coach noted. "He had major back surgeries and he's had a knee problem since he was in high school, so it just speaks to how badly he wants to keep playing at a high level."
The Hornets have alternated wins and losses in the first four games of a five-game homestand that ends Friday.
Updated January 25, 2018