The Atlanta Hawks are one of the top teams in the NBA in assists and will try to maintain that reputation Friday night when they welcome the New Orleans Hornets to Philips Arena.
The Hawks are third in the league with 23.7 assists per game and sport a sizzling 20-4 mark when distributing at least 24 or more assists in a game. They have recorded assists on 63.8 percent of their made baskets this season.
Three players have stepped up their game for the Hawks: Josh Smith, Al Horford and Jeff Teague. In Wednesday's 103-92 victory over a tough Memphis squad, Teague led the charge with 22 points and 13 assists. Smith posted 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Horford added a double-double as well with 17 points and 11 boards.
"I'm just playing and trying to get wins and doing whatever it takes for us to get a win," Teague said. "We have to take it upon ourselves to get better every day to help our team get victories."
Atlanta shot 51.4 percent for the game and led by as many as 23 points.
Kyle Korver ended with 12 points and had made at least one 3-pointer in 42 straight games, tying Mookie Blaylock's team record.
Teague is averaging 20.2 ppg in his last six contests, while Horford is posting 19.4 points and Smith 19.1 ppg in the previous seven. In injury news for Atlanta, center Zaza Pachulia (sore Achilles) is questionable.
After hosting New Orleans, the Hawks will hit the road to Dallas and Orlando, and are 17-8 at Philips Arena this season.
The Hornets will shoot for back-to-back wins Friday in the opener of a three- game road trip against Atlanta, Toronto and Detroit.
New Orleans halted a four-game losing streak its last time out, a 93-84 triumph versus the Phoenix Suns in the Big Easy. Al-Farouq Aminu scored six of his 16 points during a game-sealing run late in the fourth quarter and pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds.
Greivis Vasquez recorded a double-double of his own with 19 points and 12 assists for the Hornets, who shot 52 percent from the field and allowed just 31 points in the second half. The Hornets tied a season-high for points in the paint with 56 and won for the second time in the last eight tries.
"We just defended better in the second half," Hornets head coach Monty Williams said. "We did enough to get stops and scores when we needed it."
The Hornets are 8-18 away from The Crescent City and have lost four in a row as the visitor. They will also visit Toronto and Detroit on the jaunt.
New Orleans dropped a 95-86 home decision to the Hawks on Jan. 1 this season and have split the past 16 matchups in Atlanta.