The Atlanta Hawks look like they're ready to make a move. The Charlotte Hornets are still a few steps ahead of them.
The teams will collide Sunday night in Charlotte, N.C., with both clubs trying to bolster their growing credentials.
"We can't look past no team in this league," Hornets forwardP.J. Washington said. "Every team is capable of beating everybody. For us we have to stay focused, stay locked in every night. I feel like we've been doing that of late and we're looking good."
The Hornets have won seven of their past eight games, including three in a row. The Hawks also are riding a three-game winning streak.
"We've won three straight, but we want more," Hawks guard Trae Young said. "It's a challenge for us. We're looking at this as a challenge. We're looking at this as an opportunity to meet different challenges. I think our guys are really trying to get some wins."
The teams have split two meetings in Atlanta this season. The most recent of those was Charlotte's 130-127 win Dec. 5 when Miles Bridges had 32 points for the Hornets and John Collins racked up 31 points for the Hawks. In that game, the Hornets were without backcourt mates Terry Rozier and LaMelo Ball.
Rozier has led the Hornets in scoring in their past two games. Three Charlotte players reached the 20-point mark Friday night in a 121-98 victory against Oklahoma City. That included Washington with 20 points after racking up only 22 points in his previous six outings combined.
"Just coming out there being able to make shots," Washington said. "I feel like when I'm hitting shots, my game is a lot smoother. Just trying to do something every night, whether that's rebounding, getting steals, blocking shots."
The outcome Friday night marked just the first time in a seven-game stretch that Charlotte scored 115 points or more.
"We weren't trying to do this by ourselves," Hornets coach James Borrego said. "The ball was moving. It was popping and obviously we were making shots. That's our identity."
While Young has been on a torrid offensive pace, Atlanta's Kevin Huerter drilled five 3-pointers on the way to 21 points Friday night in a 110-108 win against Miami.
"We figured out a way to win and that's all that matters," Young said.
The Hawks could be getting healthier as center Clint Capela returned from a six-game absence to play 26 minutes Friday night. He has grabbed a total of 29 rebounds in the two games against Charlotte this season.
The Hawks have been without Bogdan Bogdanovich for four consecutive games because of a knee injury. He had seven points in his only outing vs. Charlotte this season, though he averaged 13 points in three matchups with the Hornets last season.
The Hawks are coming off a four-game homestand and, after Sunday, their next five games are at home, so this is a rare road venture. Atlanta has lost six of its past eight road games.
--Field Level Media