Hawks rout Hornets with more stellar defense

The Hawks played basketball the way their head coach wants Saturday night, and now the standard set in the first five minutes or so of the second quarter against the Hornets will be there shoot for — perhaps forever.

That 17-2 run, which expanded Atlanta’s lead to 45-19, was worthy of any hoops hall of fame – especially for reserve players.

Backup guard Dennis Schroder hit two 3-point shots and scored eight points in that span, and sub forward Mike Scott scored seven points with a trey of his own.

Atlanta put the game away in that second period with a 36-11 edge that pushed the halftime margin to 64-28. The Hawks hit their first five shots in the period, including three treys, and all five of their free throws. The Hornets, meanwhile, missed their first seven shots.

Good times were had by the hometowners as they worked well to wipe out the memory of a 122-119 double-overtime loss in Charlotte on Nov. 7.

Atlanta finally missed a shot in the second quarter, but made 13-of-17 overall, hit all five trey tries and finished a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line.

Charlotte shot 4-for-20, and missed all five treys over the same spell.

“Of course we weren’t expecting to win like this, but it was great that everyone got to play,” said Scott, whose 14 points trailed only Paul Millsap’s 18 among the Atlanta dozen who played. “It felt good to get up and down and compete.”

Compete might not be the right word to use in connection with Saturday’s game, which nonetheless was just what the doctor ordered: an easy win as Atlanta (9-6) played its fourth game in five nights.

Head coach Mike Budenholzer was able parcel out generous minutes to subs while sparing starters big minutes. No Hawks starter played more than Millsap and DeMarre Carroll, who topped out at 23:53 each.

For two nights running, the Atlanta defense was stout. They allowed the Pelicans just 28 points over the first two quarter Friday on the way to a 100-91 win, and matched that Saturday.

Charlotte (4-12) shot just 25.6 percent in the first half, making a mere 11-of-43 hoists.

“We got stops and pushed the ball with pace. I think we moved the ball very well on offense, and we communicated on defense,” Schroder said after his 12-point outing. “Every time we bring the energy or the edge, we win games.”

There was no critical stretch of this game, and the Hawks were on the right end of the energy equation in Philips Arena.

The team that lost its ninth straight game? Not so much.

“Effort in this league is always going to be the responsibility of the had coach and the best players,” said Charlotte head coaah Steve Clifford. “I’m the person most responsible.”