Atlanta Hawks’ Paul Millsap, right, plays against New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis (23) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Atlanta, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Slow start dooms Hawks against Pelicans

Khadrice Rollins

krollins@ajc.com

Before Tuesday’s game, some of the Hawks said Atlanta was not playing with enough energy during its losing streak. At the end of the first quarter the Hawks were down 20 points and it was clear they did not come out with a spark.

Atlanta (9-5) would only trim the deficit down to 16 as the New Orleans Pelicans (5-10) came away with a 112-94 win at Philips Arena.

In the first quarter, Atlanta shot six-of-23 from the field and scored 14 points. The Hawks took nine threes, making only one of them, and they only attempted two free throws.

Defensively, they limited the Pelicans to just two free throws as well, but that was about the only positive from Atlanta’s effort. New Orleans went four-of-seven from deep and 14-of-22 overall, and the Pelicans had 11 assists on those makes. They also outrebounded the Hawks by 10, had 10 more points in the paint and had a nine-point advantage in fast break scoring.

“Their energy was a lot higher than ours,” guard Kent Bazemore said. “We just weren’t able to get into our rhythm. We kind of got away from what gave us that six-game win streak.”

This was Atlanta’s third straight loss, and it was also the third consecutive game the Hawks trailed after the first. This was different than the contests against the Hornets and Knicks though that were still close after one.

Four New Orleans players made three field goals in the opening 12 minutes and they each had at least six points. Howard and guard Malcolm Delaney were the top Hawks and had just two made shots and four points each.

This first quarter set the tone for the rest of the night as the Pelicans cruised to a comfortable victory. Atlanta now gets ready for the second night of a back-to-back and a five-game road trip looking to correct what went wrong.

“The starters have got to do a better job of starting the game off the right way,” center Dwight Howard said. “We’ve allowed teams to get big leads and then us try to come back. We’ve got to do a better job from the beginning. We’ve got to start tomorrow.”

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