The Rundown: Hawks, Pelicans keep playoff hopes alive

Published April 14, 2022, 2:30 PMMiguel Flores

The Hawks and Pelicans move on to face the Cavaliers and Clippers, respectively, for the No. 8 seed.


Hawks 132, Hornets 103

Pelicans 113, Spurs 103

What went down

If yesterday’s games made the case for why play-in games should stay, today was not as much of a success for the fans of NBA purgatory.

The Hawks-Hornets game was competitive at the start but quickly devolved in the second half when Charlotte's defense collapsed. Atlanta was up by 25 with three minutes left in the third quarter, making Charlotte’s second straight play-in defeat academic.

Out West, it was the same story for Pelicans-Spurs. New Orleans, fueled by CJ McCollum, surged in the first half and never looked back. The final score didn't do justice to how thoroughly the Pelicans outplayed the Spurs.

It was, however, a big treat seeing the New Orleans crowd come out and pack the Smoothie King Center. Just like with the Timberwolves fans yesterday, Pelicans fans did not have a lot of reasons to fill the arena in past seasons. When they got a morsel of success, everyone wanted more.

On Saturday, play-in action continues. The Hawks face the Cleveland Cavaliers while the Pelicans take on the Los Angeles Clippers for the eighth seeds in their respective conferences.

Big-time baller

CJ McCollum showed why New Orleans traded for him at the deadline. The veteran showed off his experience and carried New Orleans with 27 points in the first half.

He finished with 32 points on 12-for-23 shooting with six rebounds and seven assists.

The Pelicans next take on the Clippers, who feature some of McCollum's former Portland teammates from this season.

What he said

This is more about what Greg Popovich didn’t say. With the Spurs’ elimination, Pop just completed his 26th season with the organization. He remained mum about his plans as rumors continued to percolate about his impending retirement.

The last few seasons have been a stark contrast to Pop’s early days with the Spurs, going from coaching a perennial playoff contender for two decades to developing a young team.

It would be a shock for Pop to leave a team that needs his guidance, but what else does he have to prove?

Did you see that?

The NBA Finals logo everyone loved is back – tweaked, but it’s here, nonetheless. If only the league would also bring back the giant Larry O’Brien trophies at the center court logos.

Also, Zion Williamson is recovering still from his foot injury. These 360 dunks are, apparently, just a part of his scheduled rehab.