Southeast Notes: Collins, Magic, Westbrook, Monk

Hawks star John Collins returned from an ankle injury on Sunday to help give his team a boost in a 129-117 victory over the Pacers, Sarah Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes.

Collins, who missed the team’s last nine games, finished with eight points and two rebounds in 20 minutes of action. Atlanta remains without Danilo Gallinari, De’Andre Hunter, Tony Snell, Cam Reddish and Kris Dunn due to injuries, but getting back the 23-year-old Collins will certainly help.

“I felt great,” Collins said postgame. “I feel like I’m back to 100%. Obviously, trying to get the wind back to where it was before I got hurt, but be that as it may, I felt great out there. Just great to be back out with my teammates and happy, happy, happy we got that W tonight, so trying to stay here and continue to progress.”

There’s more from the Southeast today:

  • The Magic‘s veterans are looking to keep the team focused as the regular season starts to wind down, Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel writes. Orlando currently holds an 18-38 record, the second-worst mark in the East, placing five games behind the No. 10 Bulls. “I feel like myself, T-Ross (Terrence Ross), MCW (Michael Carter-Williams), Bac’ (Dwayne Bacon), Gary (Harris), we can help them — all the young guys — have the right approach every game,” James Ennis said. “I know it’s kind of tough playing these last games. I don’t know if we can make the playoffs or not, but it’s just our jobs to keep everybody engaged and just staying focused on the goals for our team and ourselves.”
  • The Wizards have taken on Russell Westbrook‘s personality this season, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington explores. Westbrook is averaging a triple-double on the season — 21.9 points, 10.9 rebounds and 10.8 assists per game — but his primary focus remains helping Washington make the playoffs. “He’s just full of energy, ready to go, always a winning mentality,” teammate Bradley Beal said. “He’s going to play extremely hard every single time he touches the floor. It’s so surreal to be able to see a guy that plays as hard as he does still have that type of energy, still getting himself up and ready to go.”
  • Hornets guard Malik Monk isn’t close to returning from injury, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer tweets. Monk has done “very little activity” since suffering a sprained ankle, coach James Borrego said. The 23-year-old is currently enjoying the best season of his young career.
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