Hawks end road trip with win over Kings

Martin McNeal, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Atlanta Hawks used athleticism and a solid defense to end their four-game West Coast road trip at 2-2 with a 112-96 victory over the Sacramento Kings at the Sleep Train Arena Friday night.
The Hawks evened their record at 4-4 with a strong performance that dominated the struggling Kings throughout most of the night.
The Kings (2-7) have lost four straight and their past three home games. That was enough to inspire a postgame team meeting.
Forward Jason Thompson scored a team-high 19 points, but that wasn't enough.
"It's about just trying to get better," he said. "Not looking at the stat sheet at the end of the game. We've all got to take accountability, worry about defense first and try to get points off fast breaks and make the extra pass."
Thompson said veterans Francisco Garcia and Chuck Hayes led the meeting.
"They are the vets with the years and the respect," Thompson said. "They have the playoff experience and leadership qualities, so they were the voice and everyone gave their opinions on different subjects."
Atlanta had five players in double figures, led by shooting guard Kyle Korver's 22 and reserve guard Louis Williams' 21.
The third quarter was the pivotal stanza as Atlanta re-established control by outscoring Sacramento 28-14. The Hawks made 10 of 19 field-goal attempts in the third and limited the Kings to six of 24 shots.
The Kings offense played right into the Hawks' hands by attempting to go one on one instead of moving the balls and themselves.
Kings coach Keith Smart continues to try to find a working combination to play solid, sound ball for 48 minutes. The second quarter was the only period during which he was successful.
"I just have to balance this roster out," said Smart, whose team registered a season-high 25 assists. "If we can move the basketball, we can get back into the game. When we don't move it, well, you saw what happened. Everyone was trying to do one-on-one plays. A lot of them think they are one-on-one players but they are not.
"I need to find the right combination to move the basketball and get away from this individual side of the game we are playing right now."
Hawks coach Larry Drew said his team did share the ball.
"It was about us focusing on us," said Drew, whose team had a five-hour flight back to Atlanta. "We can be a team that can be up and down and we know that. We're trying to work on how to be consistent. We played well and I attribute that to our guys playing unselfishly."
Sacramento regained the services of center DeMarcus Cousins and point guard Isaiah Thomas (death in family), but neither player could find a flow. Cousins finished with nine points and 16 rebounds, while Thomas scored just three.
Cousins did have a game-high seven assists.
The Hawks held a 58-56 halftime advantage on the strength of a full-court dash-and-runner by Jeff Teague at the end of the second quarter.
That the score was that close was surprising.
Atlanta dominated the proceedings early, led by Teague, who scored 13 points in the first quarter. The Hawks led by as many as 14 (34-20) entering the second quarter.
Smart said during his pre-game meeting with the media that he was still searching for a working lineup.
"I'm trying to see who can play with whom and who can't play together," Smart said. "We're only (seven) games in going into this game."
After a quarter, Smart still was looking for a productive combination. He found one with John Salmons, Aaron Brooks, Marcus Thornton, rookie Thomas Robinson and veteran Chuck Hayes.
That five combined to slow Atlanta's control of the boards and enabled the Kings to run the floor for some easy baskets.
Thompson joined Thornton and Brooks as double-figure scorers in the first half.
Teague led all scorers with 15 points, while Lou Williams came off the bench to score 10 points in nine minutes.
The Kings have been one of the league's poorest shooting teams early in the season, but made 56 percent of their field-goal attempts in the first half. The Hawks also shot well with just under 54 percent of their attempts finding the nets.
Sacramento shot 15 of 21 in the second quarter as it outscored Atlanta by a similar 36-24 advantage as the Hawks had in the first quarter.
The Kings reserves made 11 of 20 shots and scored 32 of the team's 56 points. Meanwhile, Atlanta's reserves scored just 14 of its 58 first-half points.
NOTES: The Kings played their second game at Sleep Train Arena during a stretch that includes seven of eight at home. ... Atlanta's Josh Smith is tied for third among active players in shot blocking. ... Sacramento's Francisco Garcia and Atlanta All-Star center Al Horford are teammates on the Dominican Republic National team.

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