SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Atlanta Hawks’ challenging West Coast road trip was made more difficult by a flu virus that spread throughout the team.
It also made this victory even more significant.
Kyle Korver scored 22 points, reserve Lou Williams had 21 and the Hawks beat Sacramento 112-96 on Friday night for their ninth consecutive win against the Kings.
Al Horford had 20 points and 10 rebounds for Atlanta after missing the last game with the flu bug. Horford watched the Hawks lose to Golden State on Wednesday while lying in bed in the team hotel.
“This trip has been a little frustrating, but we felt winning tonight and going home with a 2-2 record solidified this trip,” Horford said. “I was sluggish tonight and it took a while for me to get going, but I tried to bring as much energy as I could. This was a very solid win for us.”
Atlanta shot 55 percent, including an 8-for-15 performance from beyond the arc, while recording a season-high point total. The Hawks outrebounded the Kings 42-37 and had 24 assists.
“We can be a real up-and-down team, we know that,” Atlanta coach Larry Drew said. “We preach moving the basketball. We emphasize sharing the basketball and we did a really good job of that. Guys were finding each other all over the place and when we play like that we’re a fun team to watch.”
The struggling Kings were outscored by 14 in both the first and third quarters. They held a players-only meeting after their fourth consecutive loss.
“We just put it all on the table. We talked about what we needed to do and what it’s going to take to help this team get better,” center DeMarcus Cousins said. “We were all in a bad mood.”
Josh Smith had 19 points, eight rebounds and six assists, and Jeff Teague scored 13 of his 15 points in the first quarter for Atlanta, which starts a stretch Monday of seven of eight games at home.
The Hawks carried an 86-70 lead into the fourth quarter and maintained at least an 11-point advantage the rest of the way.
“This was a strange trip with everyone getting sick,” Williams said. “We had guys not playing, guys playing sick, but we persevered and got through it. We wanted to break even on this trip before we headed back to Atlanta to get prepared for our homestand.”
Korver went 5 for 5 from 3-point range. He also had seven rebounds and a rare two-handed dunk on a breakaway.
“I was open and my teammates were finding me,” he said. “I struggled early in the season, but I’ve been in a good rhythm lately and my shot is starting to feel right.”
Jason Thompson had 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Kings. Marcus Thornton had 17 points, Tyreke Evans finished with 14 and Aaron Brooks scored 13.
Cousins returned after he was suspended the previous two games for a verbal altercation with San Antonio TV analyst Sean Elliott. Cousins, who was whistled for a technical foul in the third quarter, had nine points, 16 rebounds and seven assists, but missed 11 of 15 shots.
“He was rusty, he has been out of rhythm for two games,” Kings coach Keith Smart said. “Sometimes you come back and you’re probably being hard on yourself, trying to get out of a slump. We’re having a very rough time and it’s not fun for anyone.”
Ahead by 12 points, Smith had a dunk, Horford hit two free throws, and Ivan Johnson scored from close range, increasing the lead to 98-80 with 7:55 left in the fourth.
The Hawks squandered a big second-quarter lead, but came out strong in the third, outscoring Sacramento 28-14.
Korver played a key role in a 9-0 run in the third. He began the spurt with a 3-pointer and finished it off with a long jumper, putting the Hawks ahead 81-69 with just over three minutes left in the period.
Sparked by their second unit, the Kings got going with a season-best 36-point second quarter. Brooks was the catalyst, making three 3-pointers and scoring 13 points in helping cut the margin from 18 early in the period to 58-56 by halftime.
NOTES: Evans, who entered the game 1 of 11 on 3-pointers, hit his first attempt in the opening quarter. … Drew was a starting guard for the first Sacramento Kings team that relocated from Kansas City for the 1985-86 season. … Kings small forward James Johnson was wearing glasses for the first time this season. The glasses didn’t help the poor-shooting Johnson, who was 1 for 7 from the field. … In a shooting slump the previous five games, the Hawks shot 58 percent in the first quarter and led 34-20 after one.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.)