Hawks 99, Kings 76

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ATLANTA (AP)—Josh Childress wishes the Atlanta Hawks could flip some proverbial switch and turn their season around.

“We really need to try to duplicate this the next game,” Childress said. “We had 32 assists, which was amazing. It made us so hard to guard.”

Childress scored a season-high 25 points and Zaza Pachulia had 23 to help the Atlanta Hawks to their biggest romp this season, 99-76 over the Sacramento Kings on Monday night.

Atlanta extended its home winning streak to five games. Sacramento, led by Corliss Williamson’s 14 points, dropped to 1-6 since ending a four-game winning streak on March 6 against Indiana.

“The Hawks played with great energy tonight,” Kings coach Eric Musselman said. “They did a good job in transition. Zaza got them off to a great start, and we didn’t shoot the ball very well, obviously.”

The Kings led 13-12 on Mike Bibby’s 3-pointer midway through the first quarter, but they faded quickly. Sacramento trailed by 28 late in the third quarter, failing to score a third-quarter field goal until Ronnie Price’s jumper with 2:33 left.

Josh Smith, who missed a triple-double for Atlanta by one point, finished with 12 rebounds and 10 assists. But he had two free throws bounce off the rim in the fourth period before an offensive foul ended his night.

“Yes, I knew,” Smith said. “I’ve been close before. It will happen again. It kind of hurts a little bit. You look back and think what you could have done, but it’s going to happen again.”

The Hawks were coming off two straight road losses, but coach Mike Woodson believes his team, which has 22 victories to top last year’s season total, is gaining momentum.

Atlanta is one-half game behind Orlando and New York in the Eastern Conference and 4 1/2 back of Indiana for the eighth and final playoff spot.

“This was a great game to come back on, against a good team that’s teetering for a playoff spot as well,” Woodson said. “Sacramento is playing for something. I thought from beginning to end that we were so focused. Our defense was as good as it’s been all year.”

Pachulia scored 14 points in the first quarter. Childress, who finished one point shy of his career high, converted a three-point play that made it 73-44 with 5:25 left in the third period.

“Tonight my main focus was to try to defend,” said Childress, who started his seventh straight game in place of Joe Johnson. “I had some baskets early. That was the biggest thing I wanted to do coming out of this game, and offense kind of came to me. I was able to get a few layups and dunks.”

Brad Miller’s recurring problem with plantar fascia sidelined Sacramento’s center for the rest of the game after he played the first quarter and scored two points.

The Kings’ other starters—Ron Artest, Mike Bibby, Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Kevin Martin—combined to go just 13-of-37 from the field for 33 points.

“Just a good old-fashioned butt-kicking, really,” said Abdur-Rahim, who grew up in nearby Marietta. “I don’t know how else you can explain it other than that. I don’t really know the reason. There’s no realistic excuse that you can feel good about.”

Artest scored one of Sacramento’s two field goals in the third, during which the Kings shot 13.3 percent from the field.

“We just missed a lot of shots we usually make, and they rebounded the ball pretty well tonight,” Artest said. “They did good tonight and they deserved to win.”

Notes

Childress scored 16 in the third. … The Kings, who were just 3-of-20 on 3-point attempts, have dropped nine of their last 13 on the road. … Sacramento finished the season 4-11 in road games against the Eastern Conference, 15-15 overall. … Marvin Williams had 13 points and 11 rebounds for Atlanta. … Johnson, the Hawks’ leading scorer with a 25-point average, hasn’t played during their home winning streak.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Sacramento
K. Martin K. Martin
5-11,  13 Pts
4 Rebs, 2 Assists
 Atlanta
Z. Pachulia Z. Pachulia
11-12,  23 Pts
2 Rebs, 2 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists

Scoreboard

Monday, Mar 19