Welcome back, Jannero Pargo.
The guard, signed to a 10-day contract hours before tipoff, scored 14 fourth-quarter points to lead the Hawks to a 104-96 come-from-behind victory over the Timberwolves on Martin Luther King Day Monday at Philips Arena.
Pargo hit four 3-pointers in the final quarter as the Hawks erased an 18-point first-half deficit to get the much needed victory.
“I’m very surprised,” said Al Horford, who had a season-high 28 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. “Straight off the couch to be able to come here and do what he did is very impressive.”
It wasn’t quite straight off his couch. Pargo said he has been working out and playing pick-up games back home in Chicago while he waited for his phone to ring. It rang Sunday and he flew to Atlanta for a workout. Pargo, who played for the Hawks last season, signed Monday and hours later scored 16 points in 25 minutes.
“I take my hat off to Jannero Pargo,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said. “The way he came in tonight was a really gutsy performance. I know he’s not in real basketball shape but he passed the test. I did not intend to play him that many minutes but he got into a groove. He got into a rhythm. That is what he is capable of doing.”
The Hawks (23-18) snapped a two-game losing streak and won for only the third time in the past 11 games. It was their 10th straight home victory over the Timberwolves, a team they lost to on Jan. 8 after falling behind by 17 points.
In addition to Pargo and Horford, rookie Mike Scott had career-highs with 11 points and seven rebounds. Kyle Korver added 14 points, 11 coming in the third quarter as the Hawks began their run. Josh Smith finished with 10 points and Jeff Teague had 10 assists.
The Hawks remain in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, now with a one-game lead over the Bucks.
The Timberwolves (17-21), perhaps the only team with more injuries than the Hawks, have lost six of seven games. They blew a double-digit lead for the ninth time this season.
“I wanted to come in and not hurt my team,” Pargo said. “I think (Teague) said it best, once you see one shot go in, I play like myself. The basket just became a lot bigger. I give a lot of credit to my teammates. They trusted me. They don’t mind me taking tough shots, taking open shots. They give me a lot of confidence to knock them down. … I was surprised but I work hard so I’m not too surprised.”
The Timberwolves led by as many as 18 points, 52-34, in the second quarter. The Hawks committed 12 first-half turnovers, including eight in the second quarter. Derrick Williams led the Timberwolves with 13 first-half points. He would score just four more points.
The Hawks opened the second half with a 10-0 run after inserting Korver and Scott in the starting unit. Korver hit two 3-pointers in the run. The Hawks eventually erased the entire deficit and tied the game at 69-69 on a dunk by Scott. However, the Timberwolves answered with an 8-0 run of their own and took a seven-point lead into the final quarter.
“He didn’t have to say anything a halftime,” Korver said of Drew’s halftime words. “It was a garbage first half. We all know that. We weren’t ready to play. We didn’t come out with a lot of energy. The last few games we lost but we played with the proper amount of energy. I think the hope was we would build on that. We did in the second half.”
The Hawks used a 16-4 run in the fourth quarter to finally take back the lead, their first since they led 5-4.
The Hawks shot 68.8 percent (11 of 16) in the third quarter and 80 percent (12 of 15) in the fourth quarter.
“I think we played with more energy,” Smith said. “We can’t wait until the second half to do that. We picked up half court. We made it tough on their guards to make plays, get into our paint. The defense got a little big stingy in the second half. We’ve got to be able to do that for fourth quarters.”