Hawks stay perfect with strong defensive finish
ATLANTA HAWKS 106
SACRAMENTO KINGS 95
The Atlanta Hawks are off to their best start in six NBA seasons after a 106-95 victory (yesterday morning, Singapore time) over the Sacramento Kings lifted them to 3-0 in the fledgling campaign.
It has now been a decade since the Kings won a game in Atlanta, although the Hawks gave them hope when they allowed the visitors to score 37 points in the third quarter.
"Coach really challenged us after that," Kyle Korver said, of Mike Budenholzer's call for the Hawks to step up their defence.
"So far this season, we've been a pretty good defensive team and we know that's got to be one of the strengths of our team to play at a high level."
"We were challenged and we responded in that fourth quarter," Korver added, of the Hawks' improved effort in limiting the Kings to 14 points in the fourth quarter.
"There were a ton of highlight plays and we started to feed off the home crowd. Better defence also got our offence going."
The Kings were within 90-88 in the final period before the Hawks ran off eight straight points to regain control.
Veteran centre Dwight Howard blocked four shots, including a key rejection in the final period.
Howard, signed as a free agent prior to the season, scored 18 points despite going just 8-for-20 from the foul line and grabbed 11 rebounds.
Korver and Germany's Dennis Schroder scored 17 points apiece for the Hawks and Paul Millsap contributed 13 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists.
"We have a lot of blood-thirsty players on this team and we never back down from a challenge," defensive stand-out Kent Bazemore said. "We took up our physicality and got back to our style of basketball."
Rudy Gay scored 22 points for the Kings. DeMarcus Cousins, who came in averaging 30 points, scored 14 and pulled down 11 rebounds.
Fifty-four fouls were called in the bruising encounter, 30 of them against the Kings.
"It was a physical game," Korver said. "It was a choppy, but that happens some nights and you have to play through it." - AFP.
- Chicago 118 Brooklyn 88, Toronto 105 Denver 102, LA Clippers 116 Phoenix 98