Hawks beat Rockets 130-114 but stay in 9th spot for play-in

HOUSTON (AP) — Atlanta coach Nate McMillan is certainly glad his team’s season didn’t end with the end of the regular season on Sunday.

But next year he hopes the Hawks aren’t fighting for a play-in tournament spot during the final days of the season.

Trae Young had 28 points and 11 assists as the Hawks defeated the Houston Rockets 130-114, a victory that did not improve their postseason standing.

The Hawks finished ninth in the Eastern Conference and will host the 10-seeded Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night in the play-in tournament.

“This feeling of what we’re going through right now is not the feeling I’m looking forward to next season. … Next year we don’t want to experience this,” McMillan said. “Next year, the mindset: I want it to be different.”

Atlanta entered the day in ninth place and had already secured a spot in the entry tournament, but played their starters against the lowly Rockets with a chance to improve their spot in the standings with a win and a Cleveland loss. But the Cavaliers comfortably beat a Milwaukee team resting their starters to secure the eighth seed and drop the Hawks to No. 9.

Jalen Green, the second overall pick in the draft, scored a season-high 41 points for the Rockets, who lost their seventh straight game to finish 20-62, giving them the NBA’s worst record for a second season. consecutive.

Green was happy to end with a big game after posting just eight points on 3-of-10 shooting in Houston’s final game.

“It meant a lot to finish the year strong,” he said.

Houston cut the lead to seven on two free throws by Green with about nine minutes left. But Atlanta scored the next 16 points, fueled by four 3-pointers, to make it 120-97 midway through the fourth quarter.

Atlanta Hawks shooting guard Trae Young (11) shoots a shot between Houston Rockets forwards Usman Garuba (16) and David Nwaba (2) during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Sunday April 10, 2022 in Houston.

Bogdan Bogdanovic had two 3-pointers in that stretch and Danilo Gallinari and De’Andre Hunter each had one to help the Hawks pull away.

McMillan was proud of the way his team responded when Houston closed out the fourth quarter.

“We just have to finish the games,” he said. “It wasn’t so much that I needed to say, it had already been said and we needed to close out that room and close out that game.”

Gallinari added 26 points with six 3-pointers and Hunter had 22 points for the Hawks, who finished the regular season 43-39.

Young made four 3-pointers to give him 233 this season, passing Mookie Blaylock (231 in 1995-96) for the most in franchise history.

The Hawks were up by 14 after Young’s 3-pointer with about seven minutes left in the third quarter. Houston then used a 12-4 run to cut the lead to 88-82 with four minutes remaining in the third. Green had four points in that span and Garrison Mathews capped the streak with a 3-pointer.

Clint Capela got Atlanta going after that, scoring the first four points of a 7-0 run that extended the lead to 95-82.

Houston got within eight on a basket by Kenyon Martin Jr. late in the third, but Gallinari hit a 3-pointer to give the Hawks a 102-91 lead entering the fourth.

THEY SAID IT

McMillan on his team’s chances of getting into the play-in game: “We have a home game. It doesn’t guarantee anything, but we’ve been pretty good at home”.

TIPS

Rockets: Christian Wood sat out for the seventh straight game with a hamstring injury. … Kevin Porter Jr. had 26 points. … Mathews scored 14.

Hawks: Lou Williams missed a third straight game with lower back soreness. … Capela had 18 points and 13 rebounds. … Atlanta shot 21 of 38 from 3-point range.

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