NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Kyle Korver knew he wasn’t going to play for the Atlanta Hawks in New Orleans and likely would be wearing a Cleveland jersey the next time he hit one of his signature 3-pointers.
Still, he put on his Hawks warmups and stayed on the bench the whole game Thursday night, counseling teammates and rooting them on as they sought a fifth straight victory against a Pelicans team that had won its last four at home.
“To see him on the bench and continue to cheer us on, knowing that he’s going to another team - to me that says a lot,” Hawks forward Paul Millsap said. “To continue to support us says a lot about who he is.”
Dennis Schroder scored 23 points, Millsap added 17 points and 10 rebounds, and the Hawks beat the Pelicans 99-94 by closing the game on a 14-6 run over the last three minutes.
The Hawks declined to confirm that Korver was involved in a trade, which was not official when the game ended, but Korver spoke as if the deal was done.
“There are definitely mixed emotions. There are a lot of heart ties to Atlanta for a lot of reasons. A lot of friendships,” he said. “Obviously, it’s a great opportunity for me to go to Cleveland, so I’m very excited about that part.
“If there wasn’t the emotional connection that I have to Atlanta and the Hawks organization, it would be a different story. From a basketball perspective, (Cleveland) is a great, great fit for me and I know that,” Korver continued, adding that it would be particularly difficult to lose Millsap as a teammate.
“I’ve played with Paul for a lot of years,” Korver said. “There’s mutual respect there, so it’s going to be hard not to play with him anymore. I’m going to miss him.”
Dwight Howard added 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 14 for the Hawks, who trailed by three after Anthony Davis’ dunk with 3:51 left.
“Our team wants to win. We try to keep all the noises from the outside away,” Howard said, discussing the team’s steadiness after hearing Korver was likely done in Atlanta. “It’s tough to kind of keep those distractions out of your mind, but the young guys really held it together and we got a good win. … We just played harder in the fourth quarter than they did, hit some shots, got some key stops.”
Davis had 20 points and 19 rebounds for New Orleans, which has lost its last two. Jrue Holiday added 18 points and Buddy Hield scored 15 for the Pelicans, who shot only 36.6 percent (34 of 93).
“We weren’t moving the ball,” Davis said. “We just have to move the ball and stop playing 1-on-1. When we play 1-on-1 we get a lot of bad shots.”
Atlanta matched its biggest lead at 83-76 on Kris Humphries’ layup with 7:50 to go in regulation. The Pelicans began to close the gap when Davis converted a two-handed reverse layup of Holiday’s alley-oop lob. That started a 12-2 run that included 3s by Holiday and Hield, along with Davis’ emphatic dunk that had the home crowd in a frenzy.
Hardaway Jr. tied it with a 3, however, and after Hield’s miss of a driving layup, the Hawks patiently worked the perimeter until finding Schroder for an open 3 that he buried with 1:13 to go to put Atlanta back in front.
Hield missed another driving layup attempt, and Millsap hit an 18-foot jumper to make it a five-point game with 38 seconds left.
“There were a lot of miscommunications, just a lot of mental breakdowns offensively that we can’t afford,” Davis said.
Hawks: Malcolm Delaney scored three of his seven points on free throws in the final second of the third quarter after being fouled from behind by Solomon Hill on a transition 3-point attempt that he was trying to get off before the horn in a tie game. … Atlanta is 2-0 on its four-game road trip and 10-9 on the road overall this season.
Pelicans: Terrence Jones had 12 points and 11 rebounds. … The Pelicans play their next five on the road, where they are 4-12 this season.
Hawks: Visit Dallas on Saturday night.
Pelicans: Visit Boston on Saturday night.
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