Bobcats-Hawks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 13, 2012
After a slow start, the Atlanta Hawks appear to have found a new identity during their recent surge. The Hawks look to continue their strong play Thursday night with a third win in as many meetings this season against the Charlotte Bobcats, losers of nine straight. Atlanta won just three of its first seven games without star guard Joe Johnson, the team's leading scorer in each of the last seven seasons before he was traded to Brooklyn in July. It didn't take long, however, for the Hawks (13-6) to find their groove. Since then, they've won 10 of 12 and own one of the best records in the Eastern Conference. Josh Smith and Al Horford have become the centerpieces of the offense without Johnson, averaging 17.3 and 16.8 points per game, respectively. Smith had 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Horford added 13 and 13 for his seventh straight double-double as Atlanta defeated Orlando 86-80 on Wednesday. "Now with us having to carry a big part of the offense, I think it kind of forces us to be more aggressive offensively and just keep finding each other,'' Horford said. Horford has been particularly good against the Bobcats, averaging 21.5 points and 12.0 rebounds in two victories last month. With Horford ranking near the top of the NBA in field-goal percentage (54.5), the Hawks are one of the top shooting teams in the league (45.5). They've also averaged 98.9 points over the last 12 games after totaling 91.9 during the 3-4 start. "We are playing together. I think we are very unselfish,'' Smith said. "We definitely play with a chip on our shoulders. No one gave us a chance when we lost Joe." Reserve guard Lou Williams has also played well lately, contributing 15.1 points over his last eight games. Starting forward DeShawn Stevenson did not play versus the Magic due to a knee injury, but could return for this game. Kyle Korver returned after a five-game absence because of back spasms and scored nine points - all on 3-pointers. Atlanta's improved offense figures to continue against a Bobcats team that has allowed 108.2 points during its nine-game skid. Charlotte failed to hold a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost 100-94 to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. The Bobcats (7-14) haven't won since equaling last season's win total in the first 12 games. "We've got to learn how to be down three or five (points) and execute in those situations," coach Mike Dunlap said. Kemba Walker continues to be a bright spot after scoring 17 points with six assists. The second-year guard is averaging 21.2 points in his last six games and has scored in double digits in all but one of his 21 contests. Byron Mullens led Charlotte with 19 points and eight rebounds, while Bismack Biyombo had nine boards and has averaged 9.6 over his last five games. Poor shooting continues to plague the Bobcats, who have connected on only 40.0 percent (66 for 145) in the past two contests and rank near the bottom of the NBA in field-goal percentage (42.0 percent). It might be difficult to boost that mark against the Hawks, who rank near the top of the league in field-goal percentage defense (43.7) and scoring (93.3). "The kind of basketball we kind of need to play, is scrappy, and get after it and just fight," said guard Gerald Henderson. The Hawks have won six straight overall against the Bobcats and 10 of the last 11 meetings in Atlanta.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Bill Murray goes nuts celebrating Xavier’s upset

Pat Kelsey ditches UMass right before first press conference

Report: Top GM candidates not interested in Redskins job due to Daniel Snyder

Carmelo Anthony: Knicks were more free-flowing before triangle emphasis

Report: Deal in works for Raiders to play at Sam Boyd Stadium in Vegas

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Yoenis Cespedes: MLB would grow if they played with Latin culture

Georgetown fires John Thompson III after 13 seasons

GGG, Canelo Alvarez reportedly resume fight talks

Shaq comes clean on flat earth talk: ‘I’m joking, you idiots’

NFL to discuss possibility of reviewing penalties

Report: Paul George wants to play with Gordon Hayward

The 'Once again, Barry Bonds is the best power hitter in San Francisco' quiz

With Team USA's victory, World Baseball Classic (finally) lived up to its potential

The NFL distraction playbook

Box Score 3/23: Team USA wins their first WBC title

The 'Duke schadenfreude season came early this year' quiz

Which Sweet 16 team should you be rooting for?

The Aesthetic: The world of player exclusive sneakers

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Steph Curry pushes OKC's buttons

Re-ranking the Sweet 16 for the NCAA Tournament

Lingering issues for each 2016 MLB postseason team

Box Score 3/22: Team USA is heading to the championship

The 'With teammates like this, who needs rivals?' quiz

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 'Once again, Barry Bonds is the best power hitter in San Francisco' quiz

The NFL distraction playbook

With Team USA's victory the WBC (finally) lived up to its potential

The Aesthetic: The world of player exclusive sneakers

Which Sweet 16 team should you be rooting for?

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Steph Curry pushes OKC's buttons

Re-ranking the Sweet 16 for the NCAA Tournament

Lingering issues for each 2016 MLB postseason team

Eastern Conference bottom feeders to watch down the stretch

The 'With teammates like this, who needs rivals?' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker