The Atlanta Hawks are trying to recover from a crippling stretch of 14 losses in 15 games, but the Charlotte Bobcats are proving rather difficult to track down.
Meeting head-to-head could make that a bit easier as the Hawks go for a 11th straight win in the series Monday night in Charlotte.
A victory would also give them a season-best fourth straight win while gaining a game in the standings on the Bobcats, who are just ahead of them in the Eastern Conference playoff race and are one win shy of matching a franchise-best home streak.
Atlanta (29-35), eighth in the East and 2 1/2 games back of Charlotte (33-34), beat Denver 97-92 at home on Saturday to match a three-game win streak from Dec. 16-20.
"We compete. We have a great group of guys that play together and compete," Hawks center Pero Antic told the team’s official website. "We have ups and downs; that’s normal. The most important thing is to win. It’s a great system here, and we follow it."
Antic scored 16 points and is averaging 13.0 in four straight starts, prompting his coach to point out a growing level of confidence in the first-year player.
"He has a knack for making big plays," coach Mike Budenholzer said. "… His teammates trust him. We all trust him. Sometimes, you have to get a little bit lucky and make some big shots."
All five Hawks starters reached double figures, led by Paul Millsap’s 24 points and 11 rebounds. They were outscored 39-13 off the bench and shot 40.7 percent, but they made up for it with a 14-for-32 mark from 3-point range. Atlanta has shot 44.1 percent from long range in its last four games.
Millsap said it was time for things to bounce their way.
"Yeah, we’re due for it," Millsap said. "We got a few (loose) balls. We got a few calls. Things just went our way in foul situations when it’s been the other team getting breaks."
The Hawks would now like to get some breaks on the road, where they’d lost 10 straight before a 112-110 victory in Utah on Monday.
The Bobcats are also looking to establish a season best after winning their fourth in a row Sunday with a 101-92 victory in Milwaukee. Kemba Walker had 21 points and eight assists, while Al Jefferson added 20 points and seven rebounds for Charlotte, which also won four straight from Feb. 18-22.
Gary Neal had 18 points on 5-of-6 shooting in his first trip back to Milwaukee since he and teammate Luke Ridnour were traded Feb. 20. Neal is averaging 18.7 points on 72.0 percent shooting in his last three games.
"Since I’ve been in Charlotte, I have been playing well," Neal said. "I have been efficient and effective. Hopefully, I will be able to keep that up."
They now return home, where they’ve won eight straight for the first time since stringing together nine home wins from Dec. 22, 2009-Jan. 20, 2010.
The Hawks have won both meetings this season, including a 118-116 home overtime victory on Dec. 28. Millsap led all scorers with 33 points and 13 rebounds, while Jefferson had 24 points and 23 rebounds.