NEW ORLEANS (AP)—Baron Davis decided he’d rather get used to playing in pain than take an opportunity to rest for the playoffs.
He scored 14 of his points in the third quarter, after missing much of the first half because of discomfort in the left knee on which he had surgery in January.
“I’m going to have to limp my way through the playoffs,” Davis said. “So if I can find some type of strength, some type of motivation to go out there, I’m going to give it my all and it worked out for us in the second half.”
Other than extending their winning streak, the Hornets had little to play for after a Philadelphia victory earlier in the night guaranteed New Orleans would finish fifth in the Eastern Conference and begin the playoffs on the road. The Hornets will play the 76ers, whom they beat at Philadelphia on Sunday.
“Winning this game was more important than worrying about who we’re playing” in the playoffs, said Jamal Mashburn, who had 15 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for his third career triple-double. “You always want to finish the season strong. You never want to go into any situation feeling unsure about yourself. By winning games, that breeds confidence.”
The lottery-bound Hawks were trying to extend a four-game winning streak, but turned the ball over 23 times, leading to 31 points for the Hornets.
“We controlled things and then a stretch of turnovers beat us,” Hawks coach Terry Stotts said. “The Hornets are a team that is made for the playoffs. They play good defense when they have to and they have the shooters that can put the ball in the basket.”
“I like our attitude going into the playoffs,” Hornets coach Paul Silas said. “I think we’re on a high and it’s going to be an exciting series. Right now we’re executing our offense as well as I’ve seen it. And we’ve been outrebounding our opponents.”
The Hornets outrebounded Atlanta 50-44, marking the 33rd time in the last 35 games the Hornets have equaled or surpassed their opponents in rebounds.
Atlanta used a 10-0 run, capped by a follow dunk by Glover, to take a 59-53 lead with just under five minutes left in the third quarter. But that’s when New Orleans took over, outscoring Atlanta 18-6 for the remainder of the period, with an 11-0 run to end the quarter.
Brown started the run when Mashburn found him cutting through the lane for a layup. Then Davis got two of his three steals on consecutive possessions, both leading to fast-break layups, one by Davis himself. Courtney Alexander finished the run with a layup and a fast-break dunk to give the Hornets a 71-65 lead heading into the fourth quarter. New Orleans would not trail again.
Atlanta looked more like the playoff-bound team in the first half, outshooting New Orleans 43 percent to 33 percent.
Dan Dickau hit a pair of 3-pointers during a 10-0 Hawks run that gave Atlanta a 34-24 lead.
After the Hornets had chipped away, Terry hit two straight jumpers, putting the Hawks up 43-33. But Davis then hit a 3 and Mashburn finished a fast breakwith a layup to leave the score 43-38 at the half.
Atlanta’s Theo Ratliff had five blocks, two during drives by Davis, and finished the season with 262 rejections. … Magloire, a third-year pro out of Kentucky, became the first player in the Hornets’ 15-year history to start all 82 games at center. … The victory made Silas (who has no contract for next season) the all-time winningest Hornets coach, passing Allan Bristow. Silas is now 208-155 as Hornets head coach. “It’s very gratifying and it’s a tribute to my players and coaching staff who live and die every game with me,” Silas said. “I’ve had longevity here. I’ve had some good teams.” His all-time NBAcoaching record is 286-323.