NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The new year opened with a scene hauntingly familiar from the past for the New Orleans Hornets.
Josh Smith scored 10 of his team-high 23 points in the third quarter to lead the Atlanta Hawks to a 95-86 victory over the Hornets on Tuesday night.
New Orleans was outscored 28-14 in the decisive period, turning a 50-44 halftime lead into a 72-64 deficit. The Hornets were six of 16 in the quarter, committed four turnovers and were outscored 6-0 in the final 2:22.
On Dec. 22 Indiana held the Hornets to seven points in the third quarter, resulting in an 81-75 loss.
"We just didn't put up much of a fight," Hornets coach Monty Williams said. "We just didn't have execution and didn't play with a lot of force tonight. Their bigs did a very good job of dominating the game.
The Hawks frontcourt of Smith, Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia combined for 55 points, 26 rebounds, 10 assists, three steals and five blocked shots.
Kyle Korver added 14 points for Atlanta, which spoiled the homecoming of Hornets guard Eric Gordon.
Gordon, playing in his first home game this season, scored 11 points on 5 of 17 shooting. Gordon, who had spent most of the season recovering from a knee injury, made his season debut in a victory over Charlotte this past Saturday.
Ryan Anderson scored 23 points, Greivis Vasquez 17 and Robin Lopez 10 for the Hornets, who had won two of their past three. Vasquez, selected the NBA Player of the Week on Monday, recorded his eighth double-double of the season with 10 assists.
"We had a letdown in the first two quarters," Smith said. "I wanted to come out with energy and effort, so I was happy when I made some shots in the third quarter and was very efficient. "