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Hawks charge back to defeat Suns

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The Atlanta Hawks outscored the Phoenix Suns 59-34 in the second half to claim a much-needed 103-90 win.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks had to dig deep but a big second half was enough for them to pull out a 103-90 win over the Phoenix Suns. Atlanta trailed for most of the first three-quarters of the game and allowed Phoenix to score 38 of their 90 points in the first quarter. However, the Hawks outscored Phoenix 33-17 in the fourth to pull out a much-needed win.

"Well obviously the first quarter, credit to them, I think they were unbelievable good from the 3-point line," said Mike Budenholzer following the game. "Not all were mistakes. Some were tough shots. Ronnie Price had a great first quarter. (Mirza) Teletovic came in and made some. After a good first five or six minutes, the rest wasn’t very good."

The Suns opened the game shooting 59 percent from the field and were 8 of 11 from three-point range. Devin Booker and Ronnie Price combined for 19 points in the first torching Atlanta's backcourt.

"Terrible offense in the second quarter, better defense," Budenholzer added. "We had both going in the second half. We were able to win a game after a few day break. Which is good. We haven’t been able to play well coming off a break. Any way you can find a way to win and hold someone to 90 (point), it’s a good thing."Any way you can find a way to win and hold someone to 90 (point), it’s a good thing."

Atlanta improved to 1-1 on the season with at least four days of rest.

The Hawks made a charge at the start of the third quarter immediately cutting the lead to seven and forcing a Phoenix timeout. The Suns would recover with the aid of some questionable officiating decisions and once again pushed the lead to as many as 13. The Hawks kept coming though and cut the lead to 73-70 at the end of the third which set the table for the fourth.

"I think there was an intensity to us, a competitiveness to us, in the second half whether it was getting in the passing lanes, getting on the boards," Budenholzer said when asked about the second half run. "When you feel like a call is going against you, instead of feeling sorry for yourself you get better, you get more loose balls, you get more aggressive. I think everything we did, all of our reactions, whether it be to officiating or anything in the second half was to be more aggressive."

Starters come through again

All five Hawks starters finished in double figures led by Jeff Teague's 20 points. Kent Bazemore added 17 while Al Horford recorded a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Paul Millsap stuffed the stat sheet and came close to a triple-double with 13 points, 17 rebounds and eight assists.

Atlanta finished the game at 41 percent shooting and knocked down 11 three-pointers. After the Suns red-hot first quarter, they finished the game at 37 percent shooting. Turnovers were a major factor in the comeback as the Hawks turned 24 Phoenix miscues into 30 points.

"Most of our motivation was us having something to fight for going into the playoffs, Millsap said. "They don’t. Obviously, we are the better team. That’s where our motivation comes from, just taking pride in who we are and what we are trying to accomplish."

Hawks maintain third spot in East Standings

With the win, Atlanta maintained a half-game lead over Boston and Miami for the third spot in the East standings. The Heat scored a 107-98 win over the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday. The Charlotte Hornets dropped their second straight in a 96-90 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday. The Hornets are 1.5 games behind Atlanta and a game back of both the Heat and the Celtics in the Eastern Conference race.