ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Hawks have plenty of guys who can hit 3-pointers.
Add Al Horford to the list.
Showing off his improved shooting range and taking advantage of Anthony Davis’ absence, Horford scored 26 points to lead the Hawks to a 106-98 victory over the injury depleted New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night.
After trailing by 12 points in the first half, the Hawks pulled away down the stretch. Paul Millsap converted a couple of three-point plays to help seal the victory for Atlanta, which bounced back from a home loss to Minnesota two nights earlier.
Horford hit 11 of 15 shots, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range. Millsap was also a force, finishing with 19 points and 16 rebounds.
Ten games into the season, Horford has already eclipsed his previous career best beyond the arc. He is 12 of 36, one more than he made all of last season; in fact, he made only 10 from that distance his first seven years in the league.
"That’s something I’ve been working on," Horford said. "I’m not just shooting to shoot `em. I feel better about it, too. I’m more comfortable in the offense. I’m much more comfortable with my shooting."
The Hawks didn’t have to worry about Davis. The star center missed the game with a right hip contusion sustained Tuesday against Dallas in the Pelicans’ first win of the season.
Eric Gordon led New Orleans with 26 points.
"We’re a little short-handed," Gordon said. "We played hard. They just amped it up a little bit more."
The loss to Minnesota snapped the Hawks’ seven-game winning streak. They rallied from a 34-point deficit in that one before losing to the Timberwolves 117-107.
Atlanta didn’t face such a daunting deficit in this one. Still, New Orleans raced out to a surprising double-digit lead in the first half, knocking down 3s from all over the court. The Pelicans made 10 of their first 14 attempts, with six players getting in on the long-range act.
That’s usually how the Hawks do it.
Instead, it was New Orleans that led 56-47 at halftime.
"They definitely had us on our heels," coach Mike Budenholzer said. "We have to play a lot better coming out to start games."
The Hawks finally found their shooting touch in the third quarter, making 5 of 9 from beyond the arc. With the clock winding down, Tiago Splitter dropped in a layup off a pass from Horford, giving Atlanta a 76-75 lead heading to the final period.
Still, it was a gutty effort by the Pelicans, who were also missing guard Jrue Holiday. He hasn’t been cleared to play on back-to-back nights while recovering from a right leg injury.
"I thought we ran out of gas," coach Alvin Gentry said. "We missed some shots that we made in the first half."
SIMPLIFYING THE DEFENSE
The Hawks made some defensive adjustments at halftime. Mainly, they simplified things.
"We were a bit unorganized," Kyle Korver said. "We came out in the second half with something we thought would work, and stuck to one thing."
Tim Hardaway Jr. remains a non-factor for the Hawks, who gave up a first-round draft pick to acquire him from the New York Knicks.
Hardaway was inactive for the fifth time this season and has yet to get on the court for his new team.
With the Hawks at 8-2, the hiatus seems likely to continue.
Pelicans: In addition to Davis and Holiday being out, New Orleans was also missing Norris Cole (left ankle sprain), Tyreke Evans (right knee), Quincy Pondexter (left knee) and Kendrick Perkins (right pectoral muscle). … Ryan Anderson had 17 points and 11 rebounds. … New Orleans finished 14 of 29 from 3-point range.
Hawks: Jeff Teague had 14 points and 10 assists, the 43rd points-assists double-double of his career. That ties him with Lenny Wilkens for third in franchise history. … Before the game, C Walter Tavares was assigned to Austin of the NBA Development League to get some much-needed playing time. The 7-foot-3 rookie played in just two of Atlanta’s first nine games, for a total of 2 minutes.
Pelicans: Play the second of three straight road games, visiting Toronto on Friday.