Coach Larry Drew gave the Hawks fair warning in their Friday morning shootaround: These aren't the same doormat Bobcats of last season.
First-year coach Mike Dunlap is building around No. 2 overall draft pick and former Kentucky standout Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and second-year point guard Kemba Walker, and he's seeing early progress.
The Hawks saw it for themselves Friday night when the Bobcats wouldn't go easily, coming within four points late in the third quarter and pulling back within single-digits with 1:26 left.
But when Al Horford, Jeff Teague and company put their minds to it, they took control, and that's how they pulled out a 101-91 win.
After an 8-0 spurt pulled the Bobcats within 97-91 with 1:26 left, Josh Smith found Horford wide open for a dunk, as he scored the final two baskets to hold off Charlotte.
Horford finished with 26 points and 13 rebounds, while Teague paced the Hawks with 12 assists to go with 13 points.
"We didn't take them lightly," Horford said. "We knew what they were capable of. We came out, and I felt like we had one of our better games of the season."
Kyle Korver made three 3-pointers in the third quarter on his way to a solid 16 points. Zaza Pachulia gave the Hawks a late lift off the bench with seven rebounds in 11 minutes at one point. He drove the lane for a layup to end the third quarter and finished with nine points.
"I thought my guys did a really good job in accepting the challenge, playing against a team that's certainly headed in the right direction," Drew said.
These aren't exactly the same Hawks either, with only five of 14 players on the roster back from last season. But these newly reworked Hawks (7-4) won their fourth in a row coming out of their West Coast trip.
Drew had the Hawks' attention in part because they needed overtime Wednesday and a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Korver to get past the 0-10 Washington Wizards.
By Friday evening, their legs were fresher, and they had caught up on some rest from their trip. So they knew what to do despite the momentum the Bobcats brought from having won five of their past six games.
Horford, Hawks defeat upstart Bobcats
Atlanta Journal-Constitution | Nov 24