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Atlanta & New Orleans keep their seasons alive on Wednesday night!

De'Andre Hunter

De’Andre Hunter

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

We are officially into postseason mode, and we had two elimination games on Wednesday, meaning two more teams got to pack their bags and book their trips to Cancun. On Tuesday, we saw the Clippers lose to the Timberwolves, meaning they will host the winner of Wednesday’s game between the ninth-seeded Pelicans and the 10th-seeded Spurs. In the Eastern Conference, we saw the Cavaliers lose to the Nets, and they await the winner of Wednesday’s game between ninth-seeded Atlanta and tenth-seeded Charlotte. So how did these games play out? Let’s find out!

Hawks rout Hornets 132-103 in Atlanta.

This game had a good deal of hype coming into it, and unfortunately, Charlotte just didn’t show up. The Hawks jumped out to a nine-point lead after the first quarter, before going into the half trailing by eight. The third quarter was a whole different story, as the Hawks outscored the Hornets 42-24 in the third quarter, and led 102-76 heading into the fourth quarter. Trae Young didn’t have his best shooting night, going 8-of-24 from the floor (1-of-7 3-pointers) for 24 points, but he dished out 11 assists and grabbed three rebounds to go with one steal and one block in 34 minutes. The Hornets did a pretty good job getting the ball out of Young’s hands by sending doubles at him, blitzing some of his ball screens, and being pretty physical throughout the night.

Arguably the biggest reason that the Hawks were able to separate from the Hornets in the 2nd half was De’Andre Hunter. The former Virginia Cavalier was outstanding on Wednesday, scoring 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting (2-of-3 3-pointers) and grabbing seven rebounds with two assists in 30 minutes. He did the majority of his damage in the third quarter, scoring 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting in the frame. With Wednesday’s win, the Hawks are now 27-17 since Hunter returned in January after missing two months due to wrist surgery. Clint Capela also had himself a game on Wednesday, scoring 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting (3-of-6 free throws) to go with 17 rebounds, three assists, three blocks, and two steals in just 29 minutes. This marked his third-straight double-double dating back to the regular season, and his five stocks were his highest total of the month. Danilo Gallinari added 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting (2-of-5 3-pointers) to go with three rebounds, two assists, and one turnover in 30 minutes.

On the flip side, things were ugly for the Hornets, who might as well have stayed in the locker room at halftime. LaMelo Ball scored 26 points, but it was not a pretty 26 as he shot 7-of-25 from the floor and 4-of-14 from three while making 8-of-10 from the foul line. He dished out eight assists with five rebounds, one steal, and three turnovers in 38 minutes. The first half for both Ball and Trae Young was ugly, as both point guards shot 3-of-13 from the floor heading into the locker room. It marked just the second time in the last 25 seasons that both starting point guards had 10 missed field goals in the first half, which includes the playoffs, the regular season, and play-in games. The only other time it happened was in the 2017 Western Conference Quarterfinals when Russell Westbrook and James Harden each missed 11.

Terry Rozier also struggled shooting the ball, as he shot 8-of-22 from the floor (2-of-8 3-pointers) for 21 points to go with four rebounds, three assists, and five turnovers in 36 minutes. He and Ball shot a combined 15-of-47 from the floor, which is 31.9%. Needless to say, it isn’t a great sign when your starting backcourt shoots 47 shots, and scores just 47 points, while shooting that percentage. Perhaps the only person who wore a Charlotte jersey who had a worse night than those two was Miles Bridges, who scored just 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting (0-of-4 3-pointers) to go with four rebounds, four assists, and one block before being ejected after playing 30 minutes. Bridges was upset with a foul call made in the fourth quarter, and he approached a referee and had some words for the official, who then sent him to the showers. On his way off the floor, Bridges chucked his mouthpiece at a fan who was heckling him, but missed and hit a young fan. After the game, he apologized while speaking to the media, and later quotes the tweet on Twitter saying, “Somebody get me in contact with the young lady. That’s unacceptable.” He will likely have a fine coming his way from the league office in the next 24 hours.

P.J. Washington might be the only player on the Hornets who had a decent night, as he shot 7-of-10 from the floor (3-of-5 3-pointers) for 17 points with six rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and one steal in 38 minutes. The Hornets though, have now lost in the play-in round in back-to-back seasons by a combined 56 points. They also have now gone 18 straight seasons without a playoff series win, which ties the Timberwolves and the Kings for the longest active streak in the NBA. They have a decision to make this summer on Bridges, and whether or not to offer him a max extension, which could get all the way up to 173 million dollars, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Bridges will certainly have some suitors, but will Michael Jordan break out the checkbook? Only time will tell.

Pelicans outlast Spurs 113-103 Wednesday night

Thankfully, the nightcap was more competitive than the appetizer that was the Hawks and the Hornets. The Pelicans started this season 1-12 and lost 17 of their first 20 games. At that point in the season, it looked like they were headed for a top-five pick in the NBA Draft. They were without Zion Williamson, who had undergone foot surgery in the offseason, they had a first-year head coach, and their all-star wing Brandon Ingram had been in and out of the lineup, as he dealt with right hip issues. But they eventually got Ingram back in the lineup, they were able to get some continuity with their new head coach, and arguably most importantly, they acquired C.J. McCollum from the Blazers, and he has breathed new life into this organization. In 24 games with the Pelicans, the former Lehigh standout has averaged 24.3 points per game with 5.8 assists, and 4.5 rebounds, all of which would be career-marks if they spanned an entire 82-game season. The 24.3 points per game also are the highest on the Pelicans since he has been acquired. Wednesday was McCollum’s moment, and he did not disappoint.

In 39 minutes, McCollum scored 32 points on 12-of-23 shooting (3-of-5 3-pointers) and added seven assists, six rebounds, one block, and four turnovers. He did the majority of his damage before the intermission, as he scored 27 points on 10-of-12 shooting (2-of-3 3-pointers), and he single-handedly outscored the San Antonio starters, who mustered just 25 first-half points. McCollum shot 7-of-8 on off-the-dribble jumpers, and the Spurs made only seven field goals the entire first half on 25 attempts, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Still, the Pelicans lead by just 11 at the break. Brandon Ingram played in his first career postseason game on Wednesday night, and he also had a great showing. He scored 27 points on 11-of-19 shooting (5-of-6 free throws) to go with five rebounds, five assists, and just two turnovers in 30 minutes. He was especially great late in the game as the Spurs cut the deficit to six with 5:18 to play. From that point on, Ingram scored eight points on 3-of-4 shooting (2-of-2 free throws) to help New Orleans seal the win. Lastly, Jonas Valanciunas double-doubled, scoring 22 points and grabbing 14 rebounds with three assists, one steal, and two blocks in 36 minutes. The big fella shot 9-of-14 from the floor (0-of-1 3-pointers) and made 4-of-8 free throws.

The Pelicans will now advance to Friday, where they will travel to Los Angeles for a game against the Clippers with the winner claiming the eighth seed in the west. The Pelicans will have a tall task going on the road, but they won three of the four regular-season meetings. We will see if they can beat the Clippers for the fourth time and earn a date with the Suns in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

For the Spurs, it was a pretty balanced attack, as six players scored in double figures on the evening with five of those players scoring between 12 and 16 points. Devin Vassell is the outlier, as he scored 23 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the floor (7-of-13 3-pointers) with three assists, and two rebounds in 37 minutes. He hit some huge triples all night long, but especially in the fourth quarter, to keep the Spurs within shouting distance. Jakob Poeltl had an efficient game, going 7-of-10 from the floor (2-of-4 free throws) for 16 points with nine rebounds, two steals, one block, and one assist in 31 minutes.

The problem for the Spurs was that their two best players didn’t have great shooting nights. Dejounte Murray and Keldon Johnson combined to shoot 11-of-39 from the floor for just 31 points. Murray went 5-of-19 (1-of-5 3-pointers) and added nine rebounds, five assists, and one block in 34 minutes. Johnson shot 6-of-20 (0-of-5 3-pointers) to go with five rebounds, four assists, and just one turnover. The biggest question that San Antonio this off-season will be the future of Gregg Popovich, and whether he decides to opt for retirement, or to come back to coach a 27th season with the franchise. Pop was asked about his future after the game, but he was non-committal, saying that the question was “inappropriate.” If this is the end for Popovich, he will finish with 1,344 regular-season wins, 22 consecutive playoff runs from 1998 to 2019, and five NBA Championships all coming with the Spurs. Only time will tell what Pop will do, but don’t expect a decision either way for at least a few weeks.

We now know Friday’s matchups! Cleveland will host Atlanta for the right to play top-seeded Miami on Sunday, and the Clippers will host the Pelicans with the winner earning a date with Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and the Suns. Buckle up and get ready for the ride!