The Atlanta Hawks were relieved but anything but giddy after ending their four-game losing streak.
The Hawks’ inability to pull away from Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves convinced coach Larry Drew his team hasn’t solved all of its troubles.
Al Horford had 28 points and 10 rebounds and the Hawks held to beat the Timberwolves 111-105 on Sunday.
Love had 22 points and 17 rebounds in his first game since posting 31 points and 31 rebounds in a win over the New York Knicks, the NBA’s first 30-30 game since Moses Malone in 1982. Michael Beasley led Minnesota with 25 points.
The Hawks led by 15 at 93-78 early in the final period but couldn’t put the game away. The Timberwolves cut the lead to four on a 3-pointer by Beasley with 17 seconds remaining.
”We had ample opportunities to create separation but we made some bad plays and made some bad decisions,” Drew said, adding his players ”have to be smarter.”
”It’s not a time to panic,” Drew said. ”It’s an area I will continue to pay attention to every single day.”
Minnesota outscored the Hawks 33-28 in the final period but couldn’t overcome 21 turnovers.
”They outhustled us. They got second-chance points and rebounds and stuff like that,” said Minnesota’s Sebastian Telfair, who had 18 points and eight assists. ”But our problem tonight was, between me and Kevin and Beasley, we had 15 turnovers. And we’re the guys that have the ball in our hands the whole game. That shouldn’t happen. Not for us to win.”
Horford needed three stitches for a cut on the top of his head following a collision with Anthony Tolliver late in the opening quarter. Horford returned midway through the second.
”Our backs were against the wall,” Horford said. ”We’ve been in a slump, so it was a big one for us.”
Josh Smith added 23 points and 10 rebounds for Atlanta, which won for the first time since moving to 6-0 with a 113-103 win at Minnesota on Nov. 5. The Hawks avoided losing five straight for the first time since 2008.
Smith led Atlanta’s defensive effort on Love, who leads the NBA with his average of 14.6 rebounds after his big game against the Knicks.
”Those are dramatic numbers,” Horford said. ”I think Josh Smith did a great job on him to contain him as best he could.”
Jamal Crawford, who led Atlanta’s reserves with 11 points, called the win ”very important.”
”At this point, we had to stop the bleeding,” said Crawford, who acknowledged the Hawks’ performance wasn’t perfect.
”Right now we just have to take it any way we can get it,” Crawford said.
Minnesota led 17-7 after an 11-0 run, but Atlanta recovered to lead 30-27 at the end of the first period and kept the lead the rest of the game. The Hawks took their biggest lead at 81-64 and led 93-78 before the Wolves closed the deficit with a string of three 3-pointers.
Corey Brewer’s 3 cut the lead to 97-93, but after coach Larry Drew called a timeout, the Hawks recovered with two quick baskets by Smith and Joe Johnson and two free throws by Horford for a 103-92 lead.
”I think that shows how hard we can work,” said Beasley of the late comeback attempt.
”We’re a young team. We’ve got to find our niche, know when to speed it up, know when to slow it down, know when to pressure. But that comes with experience.”
Johnson finished with 17 points and Jamal Crawford had 11. Tolliver finished with 13 points for the Wolves.
NOTES: Wolves C Nikola Pekovic (left foot) and G Wayne Ellington (left thigh) were not with the team. Ellington missed his fourth straight game, leaving Minnesota with 10 players in uniform. … Horford blocked three shots. … The Hawks had 12 steals, including three by Jeff Teague.