While the Atlanta Hawks remained home after Monday afternoon’s win over the San Antonio Spurs, the New Orleans Pelicans were busy. Anthony Davis and company played an overtime tilt on Tuesday and, following that performance, arrived in Atlanta for a road game at approximately 3:30 am ET with a tall task of a turnaround. With that as the backdrop, the Hawks seemingly took full advantage, surviving a first half barrage and bouncing back on the way to a 94-93 home victory.
Despite the late arrival from New Orleans on Tuesday evening (er, Wednesday morning), it was the Hawks that struggled for the majority of the first half. Atlanta did take a 10-3 lead to open the game but, from there, it was all Pelicans for quite some time.
The visitors put together a 12-0 response to that early burst from the Hawks and Atlanta simply couldn’t get stops before halftime. The Pelicans posted a 141.1 offensive rating in the first quarter and, after a strong push to open the second quarter, New Orleans by a 19-point margin midway through the period.
The home team was able to close to within a 60-45 margin at the break and that came with a disappointing 130.3 defensive rating. Beyond that, Anthony Davis scored only three points in the first half, further exacerbating the defensive issues for Atlanta.
Fortunately, the third quarter was (much) kinder to the Hawks and it came on the defensive end. The Pelicans shot just 3 of 18 in the period on the way to 10 total points and the Hawks used a 13-1 run to slash the margin. In fact, Atlanta closed the third on a 19-3 overall surge and the end result of that production was a 71-70 lead when the fourth quarter opened.
From there, the Hawks pushed the margin to six points before the Pelicans, on cue, awakened from their lengthy slumber. That resulted in a 9-0 run from New Orleans to reclaim the lead and place Atlanta in an unfavorable position with 7:15 remaining in the contest.
It was a back and forth affair from that point forward, though the Pelicans held control based on the starting advantage. The Hawks were able to climb within one with 1:40 on the clock after back-to-back buckets from Kent Bazemore but, after Boogie Cousins converted two free throws, Atlanta trailed by three with 1:21 remaining. On cue, Ersan Ilyasova knocked down the biggest shot of the night to knot the score at 92-92 and that inspired a timeout from New Orleans.
Following the break, the two teams traded empty possessions (including a bad miss from Jrue Holiday) but the ensuing trip featured a bail-out foul call in favor of Cousins. The veteran big man went to the line and converted just one of two with 13.7 seconds remaining, though, and the Hawks then had the opportunity to escape with a win on the final possession.
With that game in the balance, Bazemore isolated against Davis and knocked down a contested jumper with two seconds remaining that placed the Hawks in front. In conclusion, Cousins got a shot to the rim at the buzzer but it went begging with no whistle and the Hawks escaped victorious.
Kent Bazemore, who was credited with the game-winner, led the Hawks in scoring with 20 points on 9 of 18 shooting, despite the fact that he missed six of his seven three-point attempts. Elsewhere, Dennis Schröder finished with 13 points (on a dismal 4 of 16 shooting) and a dazzling 15 assists, with John Collins scoring 18 points (on eight shots) off the bench.
The Hawks will now enjoy two days off before returning to action at home against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday evening. Stay tuned.