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Trae Young leads Hawks over Hornets in NBA play-in tournament

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (C) scored 14 of his team-high 24 points in the third quarter of a win over the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday in Atlanta. Photo by Erik S. Lesser/EPA-EFE
Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (C) scored 14 of his team-high 24 points in the third quarter of a win over the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday in Atlanta. Photo by Erik S. Lesser/EPA-EFE

April 14 (UPI) -- Trae Young logged 24 points and 11 assists to lead the Atlanta Hawks to a dominant win over the Charlotte Hornets in the NBA's play-in tournament. The Hawks now must beat the Cleveland Cavaliers to make the playoffs.

Hawks forward De'Andre Hunter chipped in 22 points in the 132-103 victory Wednesday at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. The Hawks led by as many as 33 points.

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"We played hard, fast and the guys were just aggressive," Young told reporters.

Wednesday's game featured just one lead change and was tied twice. The No. 9 seed Hawks outscored the No. 10 Hornets 54-40 in the paint and 40-24 off the bench. The Hawks outshot the Hornets 52.1% to 37.8% overall and 50% to 31.7% from 3-point range.

The No. 8 Cavaliers, who lost to the No. 7 Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday in another play-in game, face the Hawks on Friday in Cleveland. The winner of that game earns the Eastern Conference's No. 8, and final seed, in the first round.

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"It's not going to be an easy game," Young said. "We are going to a city to face a team that has been playing really well all year. We just gotta be ready to play. It's going to be a fun atmosphere and a fun game for us, but we'll be ready."

Guard LaMelo Ball gave the Hornets their lone lead with a 3-pointer 47 seconds into the game. The Hawks responded with a 9-2 run and never looked back. They added another 11-0 run minutes later and outscored the Hornets 32-23 over the first 12 minutes.

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The Hornets outscored the Hawks 29-28 in the second and trailed 60-52 at halftime. Hunter and Young poured in 16 and 14 points, respectively, in the third. The Hawks outscored the Hornets 42-24 in the quarter to take a 102-76 edge into the fourth.

They outscored the Hornets 30-27 over the final 12 minutes to punch their ticket to the final Eastern Conference play-in game.

Ball scored a game-high 26 points in the loss. Fellow Hornets guard Terry Rozier totaled 21 points. Hawks forward Danilo Gallinari scored 18 points in the win. Hawks center Clint Capela totaled 15 points and 17 rebounds.

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The Hawks face the Cavaliers at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Cleveland. The winner will advance to face the No. 1 Miami Heat in the first round of an Eastern Conference playoff series at 1 p.m. EDT Sunday at FTX Arena in Miami.

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