Hawks overcome slow start to defeat Kings (updated)

A slow start had the Hawks facing a double-digit deficit to the Kings.

No problem.

By the fourth quarter the Hawks turned the early 13-point deficit into an 18-point lead en route to a 122-108 victory over the Kings Friday night at Philips Arena. It was the 10th straight Hawks victory over the Kings, including six straight at home.

The Hawks (30-23) placed six players in double-digit scoring led by Al Horford with 24 points. Jeff Teague (20), Josh Smith (18), DeShawn Stevenson (17), Devin Harris (10) and Kyle Korver (10) rounded out the top scorers. Korver ran his franchise-record streak to 47 games with a 3-pointer. Stevenson hit his season-high in points, including five 3-pointers. The Hawks had 33 assists, two off their season high.

“We locked down defensively,” Smith said. “We made it tough for them to get in our paint and we limited them to one shot. We were able to get out on the break. Whenever we are running, and have fast-break opportunities, it adds to the success for us.”

The Hawks will leave home on a lengthy road trip with a victory, their fourth in the past six games. They remained sixth in the Eastern Conference, a game behind the Bulls.

As the game got out of hand late in the fourth quarter the Hawks emptied their bench, including the debut of Dahntay Jones, who arrived at the arena hours earlier after a trade deadline move.

The Hawks are now 21-7 when scoring 100 or more points.

The Kings (19-37) were led by Isaiah Thomas with a game-high 30 points, including 19 in the first half. DeMarcus Cousins added 26 points and 13 rebounds. The Kings have lost three straight and 11 of the past 14.

The Hawks made two adjustments that proved decisive. Smith took on the defensive assignment against Cousins, who scored nine of the Kings’ first 11 points of the second half. The Hawks tried to double team Cousins, but he managed to kick the ball out to the open shooter.

“It wasn’t until we put Josh Smith on him that we slowed him down,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said. “Josh did a phenomenal job on him. … That won’t show up on the stat sheet but as a coaching staff we recognize the fact of what he brings to the table when we need a stopper.

“We went to him (on a double team) once or twice and then Josh signaled that he did not want any help.”

The Hawks also used a smaller lineup to start the second half inserting Korver for Zaza Pachulia to take advantage of their speed game.

The Hawks opened a five-point lead, 93-88, heading into the final quarter in a back-and-forth affair that featured 14 lead changes and nine ties through three quarters.

“We came in starting with a big lineup but when Kyle comes in the game it changes everything,” Horford said. “He is creating movement. He is a threat from outside and he’s getting other people involved. Eventually, it works in our favor with Devin pushing the ball and Jeff pushing the ball, Josh and I getting out and running. That’s what it’s all about.”

The Hawks survived an ice-cold shooting start to the game and trailed 63-61 at the half. Trailing by as many as 13 points in the first half, the Hawks appeared to game a one-point advantage at intermission when Smith hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer. The catch-and-shoot bucket came on an inbounds play with .8 seconds remaining. However, after an official review the basket was disallowed because of a clock malfunction.

The Hawks started by making just five of their first 17 shots (29.4 percent) as the Kings were shooting over 60 percent. A 23-11 second-quarter by the Hawks erased their deficit and gave them a three-point lead, 61-58. Teague’s layup after he blocked a fast-break layup attempt by Thomas punctuated the run.

“They were making shots (early),” Teague said. “We just said to stay the course and continue to play. There are a lot of runs in the NBA. It’s a long game. Eventually we knew hopefully they would cool off a little bit and we would come out with a victory.”

The Hawks were scheduled to depart for Milwaukee following the game to being a six-city road trip. They won’t play another home game until March 6.