Harris, Smith lead Hawks past Bobcats
ATLANTA (AP) — Kyle Korver thinks the Atlanta Hawks have been too hesitant to beat a struggling opponent decisively.
That wasn’t the case this time.
Devin Harris scored 20 points, Josh Smith added 18 and the surging Hawks beat Charlotte 113-90 on Thursday night to hand the Bobcats their 10th straight defeat.
“I think mentally, in the locker room, we just decided that we were going to do it,” Korver said. “It’s easy to let up when you’ve got a lead and you’re trying to create some energy, and we’ve done that several times.”
Gerald Henderson finished with 17 points and Ramon Sessions had 16 for Charlotte.
The Hawks are 12-3 since losing three of their first five games this season. Atlanta, which moved into a first-place tie with Miami in the Southeast Division, has won two straight and five of six.
“As I’ve stated before, we have to develop that killer instinct and keep playing well even when you have teams down,” coach Larry Drew said. “We built a 28-point lead at one point, but they cut into it.”
Lou Williams had eight of his nine assists in the first half for Atlanta. Williams, who finished with 13 points, matched his career high in assists, and Ivan Johnson added a season-high 16 points.
Hawks center Al Horford finished with 11 points and three rebounds, ending his streak of seven consecutive double-doubles.
Atlanta got off to a strong start offensively, hitting nearly 63 percent of its first 35 shots before Horford and Williams missed jumpers to end the first half.
Charlotte shot 35.9 percent and trailed by 17 at the break.
“When you dig a hole like that, it’s going to be tough,” Bobcats rookie Jeff Taylor said after scoring 12 points. “We’re a young team, but we will stay together and hopefully start playing better and getting some breaks as well.”
Since winning in double overtime at Washington on Nov. 24 and improving to 7-5, the Bobcats have looked similar to the Charlotte team that finished last season 7-59 for the worst winning percentage in NBA history.
The Bobcats were coming off a dispiriting home loss Wednesday to the Los Angeles Clippers in which they blew a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter.
When Charlotte last visited Philips Arena on Nov. 28, the game was decided on Horford’s late free throws and a missed 3-pointer by Hornets forward Byron Mullens.
The Hornets were led that night by Ben Gordon, who scored 20 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter. On Thursday, Gordon had just seven points on 2-for-9 shooting.
Henderson, though, considered defense a bigger problem.
“We can’t come up with any consistent stops,” he said. “It’s on everybody. We’re playing in the NBA. There are some tough matchups out there for whatever lineups we have out there.”
Korver, playing for the second straight night after returning from a five-game absence caused by back spasms, finished with 13 points in 22 minutes.
Williams hit consecutive 3-pointers to give Atlanta its first double-digit lead at 26-14 late in the first quarter. Harris hit a 3 midway through the second that made it 45-28.
Smith’s third-quarter dunk gave the Hawks a 66-43 advantage early in the third.
“Normally when we get big leads, we tend to get complacent a little bit and kind of let our guards down,” Smith said. “Tonight we were able to keep our foot on the gas and not let up.”
NOTES: Hawks starting F DeShawn Stevenson scored nine points after missing Wednesday’s win at Orlando with a knee injury. … Atlanta improved to 4-0 on the second night of back-to-backs. … The Hawks have won seven straight against Charlotte, including three meetings this season.