Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/23/12
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Atlanta Hawks had problems shooting free throws and hanging onto the ball in Friday night's game against the Charlotte Bobcats.Those were just small matters to head coach Larry Drew, whose Hawks led in the stat that mattered the most -- the final score. Behind double-double games from Al Horford and Jeff Teague, Atlanta held off a late Charlotte rally for a 101-91 victory Friday at Time Warner Cable Arena. Horford had 26 points and 13 rebounds (both season highs), while Teague added 13 points and a season-best 12 assists for the Hawks (7-4), who won their fourth straight game despite seeing the Bobcats erase double-digit leads three times. "This was one of our best games," Horford said. "Even though we had a couple of letdowns when they got back in the game, I felt like we just played solid. "But Charlotte is a fighting team. They kept on fighting and kept on making runs at us, so one of the things that we have to improve on is being able to hold leads," Horford added. Kyle Korver added 16 points and Josh Smith 10 points for Atlanta, which shot 53.8 percent from the field (42-for-78), hit 11 of 22 3-pointers and held a 50-38 advantage in points scored in the paint. Ramon Sessions came off the bench to score 22 points for the Bobcats (6-5), with Jeff Taylor and Kemba Walker adding 16 points each, Byron Mullens 12 and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 11. While the Hawks, the league leader in forced turnovers (18.6) and No. 2 in steals (9.6), managed just 16 and six against Charlotte, they did have a season-high 15 blocks and held the Bobcats to 37.3 percent from the field (31 of 83), including just 8 of 22 on 3-pointers. "I thought our guys did a great job on challenging shots," Drew said. "We've preached that the whole year. We can't allow teams just to get free and accept that. "We had a couple of bad stretches where we didn't do a good job defensively, but we did maintain our composure." However, Atlanta also turned the ball over 22 times -- 16 off steals, a season high for the Bobcats -- and were an anemic 6 of 14 from the free-throw line. That gave Charlotte -- which entered Friday 5-0 in games decided by four points or less -- the chances it needed to get back in contention. "We had some nice opportunities, and we didn't cash them in," Bobcats head coach Mike Dunlap said. "We have been cashing them in, especially in the fourth quarter. We had some really good looks ... but sometimes the ball doesn't go down." Charlotte's last run came in the final 3 1/2 minutes of the fourth quarter, after Atlanta had pulled ahead 94-81 on Zaza Pachulia's layup. The Bobcats went on a 10-3 run, with a Kidd-Gilchrist layup pulling Charlotte within 97-91 with 1:26 remaining. However, Horford put things away for the Hawks, dunking off a feed from Smith, then hitting a jumper with 45 seconds left to push Atlanta's lead back into double digits. "We really needed a basket at that particular point," Drew said. "We came out of the huddle and we executed. Josh made a great pass down low to Al for the dunk." Horford had 16 points and Teague added 11 in the first half as the Hawks pulled ahead of the Bobcats 57-51 at intermission. Horford scored 12 points in the first quarter alone. The Hawks overcame a five-point deficit early in the period to go up 30-23 as the Bobcats struggled with 30 percent shooting. "He was super," Drew said of Horford. "I saw that he was in a rhythm, and I wanted to play him as much as I could. I probably played him a few more minutes than what I intended to. But he got us off to a great start." Teague then provided Atlanta's offensive punch in the second quarter, scoring eight points and dishing out three assists as the Hawks pulled ahead by as many as 14 points before Charlotte made the first of its three rallies. The Bobcats trailed by 39-36 in the second quarter when Teague ignited a 16-5 Hawks run. Korver's jumper with 2:25 left put Atlanta ahead 55-41. But Charlotte made a late run, getting 3-pointers from Taylor and Walker and a Walker free throw to cut the Hawks' lead to six points at the halftime break. Atlanta took its biggest lead late in the third quarter, with Teague's goaltended runner with less than four minutes left putting the Hawks ahead, 76-61. Again, the Bobcats responded, closing the quarter with a 13-4 run to pull within 80-74. "There are definitely some things we can learn and hopefully improve for the next game," Sessions said. "We just need to be more aggressive on the defensive end, bump them off their spots and get them off their sweet spots." NOTES: The Bobcats hit the road for their next three games before wrapping up the month of November at home against Philadelphia on Nov. 30. Charlotte plays at Washington on Saturday, at Oklahoma City on Monday and face a return matchup against the Hawks on Wednesday. ... Atlanta, on the other hand, will play its next three games at home to close out the month, sandwiching its rematch against the Bobcats on Wednesday between home games against the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday and Cleveland on Nov. 30.
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