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    Howard relentless in return to Atlanta as Hornets keep slim playoff hopes alive

    Mar 16, 2018
    Dwight Howard scored 33 points against his hometown team. AP

    ATLANTA — Dwight Howard scored 20 of his season-high 33 points in the second half, Nicolas Batum had a triple-double and set a career high with 16 assists, and the Charlotte Hornets beat the Atlanta Hawks 129-117 on Thursday night (Friday, Manila time).

    Kemba Walker added 24 points and Marvin Williams had 17 for Charlotte, which kept its slim playoff hopes alive. The Hornets began the night having lost six of seven and were in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, 6½ games behind No. 8 Miami with 13 games remaining.

    Taurean Prince finished with 22 points and rookie John Collins tied a career high with 21 for Atlanta, the worst team in the East at 20-49.

    Howard, an Atlanta native and former prep standout who flamed out in his only season with the Hawks last year, was relentless in the paint, using his 6-foot-11, 265-pound frame to dominate the Hawks with five dunks.

    Charlotte went on a 14-2 run to take a 33-19 lead on Jeremy Lamb's 3-pointer and began the second up 14 after shooting nearly 62 percent in the first.

    Atlanta went on a 12-5 run to cut the lead to 38-35 midway through the second, but the Hornets were up again by double digits in the third when Howard blocked Schroder's 3-point attempt out of bounds and dunked on the ensuing possession.

    They led by 15 after Williams hit a 3 and Howard had a hard dunk with 9:40 left in the period.

    Charlotte's biggest lead was 23 midway through the fourth.

    TIP-INS

    Hornets: Batum had 10 points and 10 rebounds. His previous career high in assists was 14 against Orlando Jan. 8, 2014. ... Lamb, listed as questionable before the game with back spasms, had 11 points and five rebounds in 25 minutes. ... Walker hit six 3s. ... Reserve F-C Cody Zeller missed the game with a knee injury.

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    Hawks: Tyler Dorsey, making his second straight start since Kent Bazemore's season-ending knee injury, had 11 points in 27 minutes. ... Atlanta will begin a six-game trip without key backups De'Andre Bembry (abdomen) and Malcolm Delaney (ankle), and two little-used rookies will also miss the trip. Schroder is playing with a sore elbow. Isaiah Taylor and Tyler Cavanaugh each scored 11 points with tender ankles.

    TAKE THAT, ATLANTA

    In helping Charlotte finish the season series 4-0, Howard averaged 22.8 points and 13.5 rebounds, giving him a measure of satisfaction. Signed to a three-year, $70.5 million contract as a free agent to return home to Atlanta last season, Howard was traded away in a salary dump for little-used Miles Plumlee.

    Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer, responsible as then-team president for bringing Howard to Atlanta, benched the former All-Star center several times in the fourth quarter during the playoffs, signaling the end of his one-year stay.

    KEEPING PACE

    Prince is starting to emerge in his second season, averaging 28.3 points over the last three games.

    UP NEXT

    Hornets: At New York on Sunday.

    Hawks: At Milwaukee on Saturday.

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    Dwight Howard scored 33 points against his hometown team. AP
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