By a freight train, of all things.
Tracks run all around State Farm Arena, a remnant of a time when the area was the site of the city's two major passenger stations. Both stations were torn down decades ago, but many of the tracks that remain are still frequented by freight trains running near the heart of downtown Atlanta.
One of those trains stopped on a crossing before the game, blocking the Hornets' chartered buses from reaching the players' entrance on the bottom level of the arena. The buses were forced to turn around and find an alternate route to the arena. They were delayed about 15 minutes.
Apparently, it slowed the Hornets' offense. Atlanta routed Charlotte 132-103.
"I've never seen that,'' Hornets coach James Borrego said. "I've been coming to this arena for 20 years, and I've never seen a train stop before the game.''
He seemed to imply that the Hawks had something to do with the freight train stopping at the crossing.
"Somebody figure it out. I have no idea,'' Borrego said. "But our guys noticed.''
He said the delay fired up the Hornets, However, the Hawks outscored the Hornets 42-24 in the third quarter during a 12-minute barrage, hitting 16 of 24 shots, and led 102-76 heading to the final period.
The 10th-seeded Hornets were looking to earn their way into the playoffs for the first time since 2016.