Notebook: Hawks 95, Hornets 86

Posted Jan 1, 2013 11:55 PM

Bradley Handwerger, for

THE FACTS: The Atlanta Hawks showed no signs of being tired from playing four games in four different cities in five nights, holding off the New Orleans Hornets 95-86 on New Year's night.

Josh Smith had 23 points and 13 rebounds while Al Horford contributed 20 points to pace the Hawks (20-10) to their fifth win in the past six games.

New Orleans, meanwhile, fell to 7-24 in Eric Gordon's first game in front of the home crowd since returning from a right knee injury. Gordon scored 11 points, but was just 1-for-4 from the free-throw line and said after the game that he's still fighting to get into game shape.

Another poor third quarter by the Hornets was all Atlanta needed to move past New Orleans after a tight first half. After going into halftime down six points, Atlanta doubled New Orleans' output in the third quarter thanks to 63 percent shooting.

QUOTABLE: "I think he set the tone for us. I think we were riding a little low on energy and he did a good job both in sparking and putting us over the top. That was big of him."

--Atlanta's Horford on Smith, who went 5-for-9 for 19 points in the third quarter.

THE STAT: 4-for-8. Atlanta came into Tuesday's matchup averaging 19.5 free throws per game. But against New Orleans, the Hawks took their first free throw with less than two minutes to play in the third quarter and finished with only eight shots, four of which came in the final two minutes.

TURNING POINT: The Hornets took a 62-61 lead on the Hawks with 3:31 to go in the third quarter and the basket appeared to be just another one. But Atlanta caught its rhythm at that point and took control of the game. Kyle Korver hit a 3-pointer followed by a Smith layup and the Hawks were on their way, using an 11-2 run to close out the quarter. Though the Hornets closed within two points midway through the fourth quarter, Atlanta never trailed again.

GOOD MOVE: As much as Hornets coach Monty Williams knows that Gordon will help New Orleans, he also knows that the future is brighter than the present. Gordon played in only his second game this season after having an extended rehabilitation period for his right knee. Bringing back Gordon too soon, even if it means another couple of wins, isn't worth it if it means he's injured again.

NOTABLE: New Orleans made just 33 percent of its free throws, a franchise single-game low. ... Atlanta's Smith recorded his 5,000th rebound in the game. ... Atlanta's frontcourt finished the game with 55 points, 26 rebounds, 10 assists, five blocked shots and three steals. ... The Hornets' Greivis Vasquez finished with his eighth double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 assists. For the second time in three games, he fell one rebound short of his first career triple-double. ... NFL Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith and Rickey Jackson were in attendance.

UP NEXT: For the Hornets, Wednesday @ Houston, Saturday @ Dallas, Monday vs. San Antonio. For the Hawks, Friday @ Detroit, Saturday vs. Boston, Tuesday @ Minnesota.