ATLANTA • The Atlanta Hawks are off to their best start in six National Basketball Association seasons and the Sacramento Kings have now gone 10 years without a victory in Atlanta.
The Hawks held the Kings to 14 points in the fourth quarter after giving up 37 points in the third and improved to 3-0 with a 106-95 victory on Monday.
"Coach really challenged us after that," Kyle Korver said of Mike Budenholzer's urgent call for the Hawks to get back to playing like they can. "So far this season, we've been a pretty good defensive team and we know that's got to be one of the strengths of our team to play at a high level.
"We were challenged and we responded in that fourth quarter. There were a ton of highlight plays and we started to feed off the home crowd.
"Better defence also got our offence going."
Dwight Howard blocked four shots, including a key one in the decisive fourth-quarter push. The veteran centre scored 18 points despite going just 8-for-20 from the foul line and pulled down 11 rebounds.
Korver and Dennis Schroder each scored 17 points for the Hawks, while Paul Millsap had 13 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists. Thabo Sefolosha had three of his four steals in the fourth quarter and Kent Bazemore had three thefts in the game to go with his 11 points.
"We have a lot of blood-thirsty players on this team and we never back down from a challenge," Bazemore said. "We took up our physicality and got back to our style of basketball."
Rudy Gay scored 22 points for the Kings (2-2). DeMarcus Cousins scored 14 and pulled down 11 rebounds.
Sacramento were within 90-88 in the fourth quarter before the Hawks ran off eight straight points to regain control.
"Where it ran back away from us is when we fell in love with the jump shot and stopped getting in the paint," Kings coach Dave Joerger said.
"Then they were able to run out on us."