Vasquez's triple-double leads Hornets past Hawks
ATLANTA (AP) — The New Orleans Hornets rarely win back-to-back games.
Greivis Vasquez had never put up a triple-double in the NBA.
Both happened Friday night.
Vasquez scored 21 points, dished out 12 assists and grabbed 11 rebounds for New Orleans, which rallied from a 14-point deficit in the first half and withstood a late charge by the stumbling Atlanta Hawks for a 111-100 victory.
For the last-place Hornets, it was a second straight victory — just their fourth winning streak of a rebuilding season.
While many contributed, including Eric Gordon with 27 points and Ryan Anderson with perhaps the biggest shot of the game, Vasquez led the way.
"To see him take command of a game like that says a lot about him, the work ethic, his ability to take coaching, which a lot of NBA guys can't do," Hornets coach Monty Williams said. "A lot of NBA guys don't want to be coached. They want to be babied and coddled. That kid is probably the toughest guy I've been around."
Vasquez came into the game ranked third in the league in assists, but he'd never had an all-around game like this.
"This one really feels great," the third-year guard said. "It's special because it's my first one, and with a win. I can't be satisfied. I want more, and I want to help the team win games."
Al Horford drove for a slam that cut the Hornets' lead to 98-94 with 3½ minutes remaining. But Anderson sank a 3-pointer that caught the front of the rim, bounced high off the backboard and fell through. Anderson pumped his right fist as he headed the other way; the Hawks never got closer than five the rest of the way.
But the Hornets really won this game late in the first half, and with a totally dominant performance in the third quarter, when New Orleans outscored the Hawks 29-16, forced four turnovers and limited Atlanta to 5-of-16 shooting.
"We played tough," Vasquez said. "When we play tough, and with this mindset that we've got to fight, we've got to bump people, we've got to be physical, we're a better team."
The Hawks had a familiar swoon after halftime and took another blow in a once-promising season. Atlanta started out as one of the NBA's most surprising teams but has lost 12 of 19 since Jan. 1, falling off the pace in the Eastern Conference.
"We have to develop a killer instinct," coach Larry Drew said. "If we want to be a team that's mentioned with some of the better teams, we've got to learn to put teams away. Right now, we're just not very good at that."
Josh Smith led Atlanta with 23 points and Jeff Teague added 21.