The Atlanta Hawks staged a second-half rally which disintegrated a 13-point first-quarter deficit to defeat the Sacramento Kings, 122-108, on Feb. 22 at Philips Arena.
Atlanta led 93-88 to begin the final period after trailing the Kings by as much as 13 in the opening stanza. DeShawn Stevenson’s 3 pointer at the 5:01 mark in the second quarter gave the Hawks their first lead since the opening minutes of the game, but Sacramento managed to hang on to a slim 63-61 lead at halftime.
“This was a tale of two halves,” said Head Coach Larry Drew. “Defensively, in the first half, we had no presence. I knew from an adjustment standpoint there were some things I really wanted to do, particularly against Isaiah Thomas.”
Atlanta elected to go with a smaller unit by substituting guard Kyle Korver for center Zaza Pachulia after the Kings opened by shooting 61 percent from the field, going 11-for-18 from the floor. Thomas scored 12 points in the period to lead the team as the 5’9″, second-year guard went 4-for-5 from the floor, including a 3-pointer, and a perfect 3-for-3 from the free-throw line. Sacramento gained its biggest lead at 27-14 following a 15-4 run with three minutes left in the period.
But the Hawks countered in the second with Stevenson and Jeff Teague. Stevenson scored nine points in the period while Teague contributed 10 during the same span.
In fact, it was Teague who hit a 24-foot, 3-pointer with just 2:20 left in the third quarter that put Atlanta up by three, 88-85. The Hawks led from that point forward.
But not before DeMarcus Cousins caught fire and Atlanta was forced to make defensive adjustments once again.
Cousins hit 12 points and pulled down five rebounds in the third before coach Drew made changes, and those changes came in the form of Josh Smith.
Smith, Atlanta’s leading scorer and shot blocker, was called upon the defend Cousins. And according to Drew, Smith asked to take on the task single-handedly after the Hawks first began double teaming the Sacramento center.
“At the start of the third quarter, we doubled-teamed a few times…but it wasn’t until we put Josh Smith on Cousins that he slowed down,” said Drew. “Josh did a phenomenal job against him.
In fact, Cousins was held to four points in the fourth quarter and only two rebounds.
Atlanta went on to outscore the Kings in the final period, 29-20, while holding the visitors to 28 percent shooting the rest of the way. The Hawks also shared the ball, coming away with 33 total assists on the night.
Six Hawks players – Al Horford (24), Teague (20), Smith (18), Stevenson (17), Kyle Korver (10) and Devin Harris (10) – finished in double figures.