ATLANTA (AP)—The Atlanta Hawks finally got their first win of the season. Too bad they didn’t have many fans to spread the word.
The Hawks started the season with three straight defeats, including two in overtime.
“I think everybody was determined not to let this one get away,” Atlanta coach Terry Stotts said. “Everyone realized we were 0-3.”
Afterward, the Hawks left for a five-game trip to the West Coast. There weren’t many people to see them off.
The announced crowd was only 5,683—and there appeared to be less than 3,000 fans in the 19,445-seat arena.
At halftime, everyone sitting in the upper deck—less than 100, it seemed— were invited into the lower deck, leaving the top level completely empty for the final two quarters.
“I know there weren’t a whole of people out there when we came out to warm up,” Theo Ratliff said. “That’s the last time I looked. They were cheering, though.”
Terry, averaging 22.7 points, was serving a one-game suspension, imposed by the NBA for throwing a flagrant elbow in Saturday’s loss to Indiana.
Vaughn started in Terry’s spot and played the entire game, scoring eight points, dishing out seven assists and committing only two turnovers.
“Give all the credit to Jacque Vaughn,” Stephen Jackson said. “He kept us in the game, kept us in the offense, kept us in control. He kept us from turning the ball over. That says a lot about our backup point guard.”
Robert Traylor scored a career-high 20 points to lead the Hornets, who opened the season with three straight victories. They were the last unbeaten team in the Eastern Conference.
The Hawks had endured three single-digit losses, including an 88-83 overtime defeat at New Orleans to open the season.
“A team that’s 0-3 on their floor is always dangerous,” said David Wesley, who scored 19 points for the Hornets. “A team without their star can sometimes be scary.”
Atlanta led by as many as 15 points in the first half and pushed the margin to 63-45 in the third quarter. New Orleans scored the first 10 points of the fourth quarter to pull within 69-68.
The Hornets had several chances to go ahead, but couldn’t take advantage. Finally, the Hawks scored six straight points to turn away the comeback.
Jackson hit a 3-pointer, followed by a lay-in that put Atlanta ahead 77-70. He finished with 19 points.
“I love that top (of the key) 3,” said Jackson, who made three shots from outside the arc. “I get excited when it’s coming end-of-the-game time. I’d rather shoot the shot to end the game than shoot one at the beginning.”
After the buzzer, Vaughn presented the game ball to Steve Belkin, who leads a group that is buying the Hawks.
“He deserved it,” Vaughn said. “The fact that they’re supporting us like they’re fans, you have to appreciate that. You want to play good for them.”
Baron Davis, leading New Orleans with 24.7 points a game, was held to 13 on 6-of-21 shooting.
“We weren’t solid at all,” Hornets coach Tim Floyd said. “I didn’t like our shot selection late. I didn’t like the execution we had late in the game,the turnovers late.”
Ratliff had 10 rebounds for the Hawks, who held a 50-42 edge on the boards. … Hornets F Jamal Mashburn underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Monday. He will be out six to eight weeks. … Terry, outspoken Saturday about the play that led to his suspension, declined comment before thegame. … Traylor’s previous career high was 17 points.