At this juncture the Atlanta Hawks can ill-afford to lose a game to the likes of the Charlotte Bobcats and they took care of business again on Saturday night with a 116-96 win. It was their second win this week over Charlotte and the victory pulled the Hawks to within a half game of the Indiana Pacers for third place in the Eastern Conference.
Atlanta dominated in nearly ever facet of this game shooting 52 percent from the field, making 21 of 23 free throw attempts, hitting 9 of 20 three-point attempts and building a 41-32 rebounding advantage. All of that despite essentially resting four starters for more than half the game.
None of Jeff Teague, Joe Johnson, Kirk Hinrich or Josh Smith played more than 23 minutes as Larry Drew rode his bench for long stretches in both halves against the Bobcats. After the first quarter ended with the Hawks trailing 23-19 Drew stuck with a lineup of Jannero Pargo, Willie Green, Marvin Williams, Ivan Johnson and Zaza Pachulia for the entire second quarter. The result was a 48-36 halftime lead.
Atlanta was able to keep Charlotte at arms length in the second half never allowing the Bobcats any closer than 12 points. In all 11 players saw action in the game for Atlanta and eight of them finished with double figures scoring led by Joe Johnson's 18 points in just 22 minutes of action. Josh Smith added 15 points while Zaza Pachulia finished with 12 points and 16 rebounds. Pachulia was the only Hawks player to play extended minutes with 38. Jeff Teague added 11 points and five assists.
Ivan Johnson led the bench effort finishing with 17 points and six rebounds. Jannero Pargo added 15 points and nine assists while Marvin Williams chipped in 14 on 5 of 8 shooting. Willie Green rounds out the Atlanta scorers in double figures with 11 points.
Charlotte was led by Cory Higgins' 22 points off the bench. Byron Mullens added 17 points and Kemba Walker 10 for the Bobcats.
Atlanta finishes the week exactly as they should have going 3-0 against two opponents with losing records. By doing so the Hawks keep the pressure on in the Eastern Conference where things remain tightly bunched. Atlanta now stands a season-high 11 games over .500 at 34-23.
The Hawks will now enjoy three straight off days before hitting the road again for important road games in Boston on Wednesday and Orlando on Friday.