SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — By proving they can win on the road, the Atlanta Hawks have given themselves a chance to earn home-court advantage throughout the NBA playoffs.
Jeff Teague scored 23 points and Paul Millsap added 19 points and 10 rebounds to help the Hawks set a franchise record with their 23rd road win of the season, 110-103 over the Sacramento Kings on Monday night.
“Winning on the road is something that’s really hard in our league,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “I think it takes a little bit of mental toughness. You have to have more attention to detail, you have to be more together. Things are not going to always go your way on the road. It’s important to establish that you can win on the road.
“Ultimately if you’re going to have success in the playoffs, you’re going to have to win on the road.”
DeMarre Carroll added 16 points and Shelvin Mack had 14 for the Eastern Conference-leading Hawks, who have won 10 of 12 games overall and 14 straight against Sacramento.
The Hawks remained a half-game behind Golden State for the best record in the league heading into their showdown in Oakland on Wednesday night.
“We’re looking forward to it,” forward Elton Brand said. “Number one in the East against number one in the West on national TV. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
DeMarcus Cousins scored 20 points and Jason Thompson added 18 for the Kings, who have lost seven of eight and continue to struggle following their second coaching change of the season.
Sacramento fell to 4-10 under George Karl, who replaced Tyrone Corbin as coach last month. Corbin took over for the fired Michael Malone in December.
One week after hitting 20 3-pointers and recording 42 assists in a 25-point home win over Sacramento, the Hawks had much more trouble in the rematch on the road while playing without resting star big man Al Horford and injured guard Kyle Korver.
Despite building their lead to 13 points, they failed to pull away from the Kings despite never giving up the lead in the second half.
Carroll hit a 3-pointer after Andre Miller’s basket cut Atlanta’s lead to one with just over 3 minutes left. Kent Bazemore, who missed six of his first seven shots from long range, hit a corner 3 with 1:06 to play put Atlanta up 103-99.
“There were a couple of plays that ruined it for us tonight,” Cousins said. “But that’s what they do. They shoot 3s. Our biggest problems were turnovers and our transition defense. There were some plays where we weren’t in position and they took an advantage of it.”
Mack hit a 3-pointer just before the buzzer in the first quarter to cut Sacramento’s lead to 29-28 after one. But Mack also provided the lowlight of the opening half when he missed an uncontested layup after a turnover by Nik Stauskas midway through the second.
Teague then helped break open a tight game by scoring seven points during a 9-0 run for Atlanta that made it 50-41. The Hawks led 54-47 at the break.
Hawks: The Hawks won 22 road games in 1986-87. … Atlanta is on its second-longest winning streak against one opponent ever, trailing only a 16-game streak against the Nets from 1986-89.
Kings: Cousins was called for no fouls in the first half but had four and one technical in the third quarter. … Former fan favorite Vlade Divac, hired earlier this month to a front office role, sat courtside with owner Vivek Ranadive. … F Rudy Gay missed the game with a sore left knee.
Korver had a procedure done Monday in Los Angeles to repair his broken nose and will miss at least three games. Budenholzer said Korver will be re-evaluated games this week at Golden State and Oklahoma City and will likely need to wear a mask when he returns.
The Hawks lost backup forward Mike Scott earlier on the trip to a broken toe on his left foot. He is expected to miss to six weeks.
Hawks: At Golden State on Wednesday.
Kings: Host Clippers on Wednesday.