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Five observations from Hawks’ 94-92 win over Hornets

The Hawks survived a close game against the Hornets – again.

For the second straight contest, the Hawks watched a potential game-tying shot by the Hornets’ Kemba Walker miss as they came away with a 94-92 victory Sunday afternoon at the Time Warner Cable Center. Walker missed a 3-point attempt as time expired on Friday night in Atlanta.

The Hawks (3-1) won their third straight game after dropping their season opener. They needed a fourth-quarter comeback after failing to hold a 14-point first-half edge.

Here is a recap of Sunday’s thriller:

Three key players

Kent Bazemore: In his second straight strong game, the new starting small forward finished with a game-high 20 points. He hit a corner 3-pointer with 1:12 left and added two free throws with 14.8 seconds left in the win. He added four rebounds, three steals and a key block in the final minute.

Paul Millsap: The power forward hit what turned out to be the game-winning shot with a top of the arc 3-pointer with 40.7 seconds left. The shot broke an 89-89 tie. Millsap finished with 16 points, six rebound and six assists.

Al Horford: The Hawks center put up a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. He was 7 of 14 from the field, including misses on all five 3-point attempts. The center added three blocks and did a lot of work on Hornets center Al Jefferson, who finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Five observations

* The Hawks were dreadful defensively in the third quarter as they allowed 37 points – two less than they allowed the entire first half. The Hawks allowed 18, 21 and 16 points in the other three periods.

“You take the win and you learn from it,” Kyle Korver said. “Obviously, we have to be a 48-minute team. That third quarter hurt us.”

* The Hawks did not attempt a free throw in the entire first half, despite scoring 34 points in the paint on 17 of 26 shooting inside. The first attempt came with 6:14 left in the third quarter when Tiago Splitter was fouled inside. He made 1 of 2 free-throw attempts. The attempts were the only of the third quarter for the Hawks. They finished 13 of 14 from the free-throw line with eight attempts coming after the bonus.

* Tiago Splitter had a solid game as he continues to fit in with his new team. He had seven points and seven rebounds. None of his three field goals were bigger than a fourth-quarter tip-in that capped a 14-3 Hawks run for a five-point advantage.

“I saw the ball wasn’t going in so I tipped it,” Splitter said. “It was the right moment at the right time.”

* The Hawks wanted to be different. They certainly were Sunday. The team used the option with their new uniforms to mismatch jersey and short colors. They went with a look of red jerseys (for the first time) and gray shorts. Some in the arena compared the look to an AAU team. The current plan is for the Hawks to wear the combination for Sunday road games.

* Nicolas Batum was a terrific offseason pickup by the Hornets. He hit three 3-pointers in a five-minute stretch to start the third quarter to rally the Hornets. In all, he scored 11 of the Hornets’ first 19 points on the second half. The Hawks’ seven-point halftime lead was gone quickly. Batum scored 16 points, 13 in the third quarter.

Worth noting

* Jeff Teague received an X-ray on his hand following the game but reported it was nothing serious. The X-ray was negative.

* Mike Muscala returned to the active list after missing the past two games with a right ankle sprain. He did not play.

* Korver returned to the starting lineup after sitting out Friday’s game against the Hornets for right ankle rehabilitation. It appears Thabo Sefolosha and Korver will not play back-to-back games at least to start the season.

* Tim Hardaway Jr. has not played this season. He was inactive Sunday for the second time this season. He dressed but did not play in the previous two games. Edy Tavares was also inactive Sunday.

Key stat

For the first time in four games, the Hawks outrebounded an opponent, holding a 48-45 edge on the boards. Each team had nine offensive rebounds.

Quote of the day

“I thought we were driving and attacking. I didn’t think it was from a lack of aggressiveness. It was an anomoly.

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer on no free throws through 2-1/2 quarters.

Report card

Offense: B

The Hawks came away with a victory as they shot 42 percent from the floor. The four of the five starters scored in double-figures and the unit accounted for 76 of the 94 points. They Hawks made an impressive run to start the fourth quarter and get back in a game they nearly let slip away. They were 7 of 29 from 3-point range.

Defense: C

The Hawks allowed only 39 first-half points, including 18 in the first quarter. They led by as many as 14 points and limited the Hornets to five fast-break points in the first half. That was the good. The bad was a third quarter in which the Hawks allowed those 37 points. The Hawks need to shore up those lapses.

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