NEW YORK (AP) — On paper, this one appeared to be a mismatch. On the court, that’s exactly how it played out.
Dennis Schroder had 19 points and 10 assists, Dwight Howard added 14 points and 16 rebounds, and the Atlanta Hawks won their season-high seventh straight game with a 117-97 victory Tuesday night over the skidding Brooklyn Nets.
Paul Millsap added 14 points for Atlanta, which led the entire way and has won eight of its last nine road games. Kris Humphries had 13, Malcolm Delaney scored 12 and Thabo Sefolosha finished with 10.
”Everybody was on the same page,” Schroder said. ”It was great to win.”
”Well, you feel a bit for (Nets coach) Kenny Atkinson tonight. Brooklyn is trying to build something here,” said Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer, who had Atkinson on his staff in Atlanta for three years. ”I care so much about him and I want good for him, so it is a little bit hard.”
Lopez’s 3-pointer brought the Nets to 89-78 with 9:44 left. But the Hawks responded with a 24-8 run and opened their largest lead of the night, 113-86, on Taurean Prince’s two free throws with 2:02 remaining.
”They outworked us. The numbers clearly show that,” Lopez said. ”They came ready to play.”
The Nets began the third quarter on a 15-7 run and pulled to 68-58 on Kilpatrick’s bucket with 6:28 left.
Atlanta scored the next four points and had an 86-70 lead after three.
”They came out a lot more aggressive than we did,” Kilpatrick said. ”When a team punches first, you’ve got to be able to punch back and I don’t think we did that.”
The Hawks went up 25-15 on Tim Hardaway Jr.‘s 3-pointer with 5:28 left in the opening quarter. Back-to-back 3s by Bogdanovic sparked an 8-0 run as the Nets pulled within two.
That was as close as they got the rest of the way as Atlanta went on to lead 35-29 after the first quarter.
The Hawks increased their lead to 61-41 on Kent Bazemore’s two free throws with 1:39 left in the second before settling for a 61-43 halftime lead.
”I wish we were a little bit more competitive,” Atkinson said. ”They set the bar high and we can look at it and say someday we’d like to strive to be a similar program, but we have a lot of work to do.”
Caris LeVert (11 points) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (10) also scored in double digits for Brooklyn.
Hawks: Schroder is the only Atlanta player to start all 38 games this season.
Nets: Trevor Booker, the team’s leading rebounder (nine per game), did not play due to a bruised left hip. … Quincy Acy, who signed a 10-day contract, played the final 1:17 and scored four points. ”I’ll come out here and prove myself and try to stick around,” he said before the game. Acy took the roster spot of Anthony Bennett, the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA draft (by Cleveland) who was waived by the Nets on Monday.
Atkinson was a Hawks assistant for four years, the last three (2013-16) under Budenholzer. ”This is special. Relationships are what make the world go round. I learned a lot from Bud. He always challenged me. He pushed me to be a better coach,” Atkinson said
OH, WHAT A NIGHT
Dec. 26, 2016, is a significant date for both teams. On that Monday night, the Hawks lost to the Timberwolves 104-90 and the Nets defeated the Hornets 120-118. Atlanta has not lost another game since then and the Nets have not won another one.
TWO YEARS EARLIER
On the same date in 2014, the Hawks lost to Milwaukee 107-77. Atlanta immediately followed that defeat with a franchise-record 19-game winning streak.
Hawks: Atlanta hosts Boston on Friday. The teams have not met yet this season. They will play again on Feb. 27 in Boston and April 6 in Atlanta. The Hawks won the season series 3-1 last year.
Nets: Brooklyn hosts New Orleans on Thursday. The teams have not met yet this season. They will play again on Jan. 20 in New Orleans. The Pelicans have won the last five games in the series.