Red-hot Mikal Bridges leads Nets into matchup with Hawks

The last time the Brooklyn Nets visited the Atlanta Hawks, Mikal Bridges matched his career high with 45 points but the result was an overtime loss.

This time, Bridges is coming off his fastest start to a game in his career, and the Nets hope to pair another productive night from him with another win Wednesday night when they visit the Hawks.

This game was scheduled last week when both teams were eliminated from the in-season tournament.

Bridges and the Nets are visiting Atlanta for the second time in two weeks. On Nov. 22, Bridges scored 30 of his points after halftime when the Nets trailed by 12 after one quarter and by 10 at halftime before taking a 147-145 overtime loss.

Since Bridges made 16 of 31 shots at Atlanta, the Nets are 4-1 in their past five games. Brooklyn’s only loss in that span was a 129-128 setback to the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday when they allowed 21 3-pointers.

Bridges did not score more than 24 points in the first four games after the Atlanta visit before erupting for 42 in Saturday’s 129-101 rout of the Orlando Magic. Bridges shot 12-of-20 and made 15 free throws. He put up 26 points in the opening quarter, the third-most productive opening period in team history.

“I’ve always talked about one of the things that makes him special is his will to win,” Brooklyn coach Jacque Vaughn said. “Most nights, you cannot pencil but pen him in that he’s going to be available, that he’s going to give what he has. So I knew mentally that he was ready to get off to a good start.”

Bridges heads to Atlanta with at least 20 points in three straight games for the third time this year. He also has at least 40 in his past two meetings with the Hawks after also scoring 42 against them April 7 in Brooklyn.

Bridges produced his outburst against Orlando on a night the Nets shot 50.5 percent, marking the fifth time they shot at least 50 percent this season.

Spencer Dinwiddie added 22 for his third 20-point game in four outings while Cam Thomas added 20 in his second game back from an ankle injury.

Atlanta went 2-3 on a five-game trip since the last meeting with Brooklyn and is 3-6 in its past nine contests since Nov. 14. Four of the Hawks’ past five losses are by double digits, including Saturday’s 132-121 loss at Milwaukee — the fourth game this season in which Atlanta has allowed at least 130 points.

Trae Young, who scored 43 in the last meeting with Brooklyn, scored 32 Saturday for his sixth 30-point game this season. But Young went scoreless on 0-of-5 shooting in the fourth quarter as the Hawks were outscored 33-23 and shot 29.2 percent.

The Hawks particularly faltered in the final minutes Saturday. After tying the game at 114, Atlanta was outscored 18-7 the rest of the way when Young missed three shots.

“Just trying to find a rhythm,” Young said. “A couple of my shots didn’t go in later in the game. Just trying to get into it.”