While the New Orleans Hornets have not panicked when facing
second-half deficits, a comeback could be tough against a surging
Atlanta Hawks team that rarely loses at home.
The Hornets try to win their seventh straight and season-high
fourth in a row on the road Friday night while preventing the Hawks
from continuing their push toward the top of the Southeast
New Orleans (27-16), which set a franchise record by overcoming
a 23-point deficit in the second half to beat Sacramento on Dec.
15, has won six in a row despite trailing by at least 12 after
halftime in three of its last four games.
The most recent comeback was a 103-102 overtime victory over
Memphis on Wednesday when the Hornets rallied from 15 down in the
“Sometimes you just have to say, ‘Thank you, Lord,’ and move
on,” coach Monty Williams said. “This is one of those games.”
It also was one of those games Dec. 26 when the Hornets fell
behind the Hawks (28-15) by nine at halftime before Chris Paul
scored 13 of his 22 in the third quarter en route to a 93-86
“We just don’t get rattled,” Paul said Wednesday after scoring
20 points with 12 assists. “We’ve been in those situations before
and we know what we need to do to win. This one right here was a
combination of hard play – and luck, too. You’ve got to be
The Hornets have been fortunate to have Marcus Thornton’s spark
off the bench. The energetic shooting guard didn’t enter
Wednesday’s game until 5:20 was left in the third quarter, but he
finished with 17 points and hit the go-ahead layup with six seconds
New Orleans outscored the Grizzlies by 12 with Thornton in the
game and improved to 6-0 when he scores at least 12.
“We feel good going to Atlanta. We’re playing well,” he said.
“It starts with defense. That’s what carries on.”
The Hornets are allowing an average of 87.5 points in regulation
during their win streak – three of the games went to overtime – and
are among the league leaders in scoring defense at 92.2 per
They now try to win four in a row away from home for the first
time since Jan. 25-Feb. 6. New Orleans, though, will face a Hawks
team scoring 102.5 points per game while going 11-1 at Philips
Arena since Nov. 22.
Atlanta returns home following Tuesday’s 93-89 overtime victory
over Southeast-leading Miami. Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford had 19
points apiece and the Hawks won their sixth consecutive game
decided by five points or fewer.
“Everything we got tonight, we really had to earn,” said coach
Larry Drew, whose team has won 11 of 14 to move within two games of
the division lead.
Johnson and Crawford could give Paul and the Hornets backcourt
plenty of problems from the perimeter, but Atlanta’s frontcourt
will likely be at a disadvantage.
Starting center Al Horford sprained his right ankle Tuesday and
will probably miss at least two games. Plus, forward Marvin
Williams is expected to miss a 10th straight game with a back
“We’ve got guys on our bench who are hungry for an opportunity
and hungry to prove their worth,” guard Maurice Evans said. “We’ve
got a lot of depth and hopefully we’ll take advantage of it.”
One of the players who may need to pick up the slack is Josh
Smith, who has posted five consecutive double-doubles against the
Smith had 17 points and 17 rebounds as the Hawks won 121-98 in
New Orleans’ last visit to Atlanta on Nov. 14, 2009. Johnson scored
26 and Crawford added 21 in that victory as the Hawks took
advantage of a Hornets team without Paul (ankle).