BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- The Atlanta Hawks proved two things Sunday night.
They are at their best in an up-tempo style -- even if they can't match the opposition's size. Oh, and the Nets hold no mental edge over them.
The Hawks used a 13-4 run to start the fourth quarter and break open a close game en route to a 105-93 victory over the Nets at Barclays Center. The Hawks would push the lead to as many as 15 in the final period in a back-and-forth game where neither team led by more than six points through three quarters. The victory evens the season series, 2-2, between the Eastern Conference and possible playoff opponents.
The Hawks (37-29) have won three straight games and snapped a five-game road losing streak. They outscored the Nets 34-20 in the fourth quarter. The Hawks started Al Horford at center, giving up on the idea of trying to match the size of Nets' seven-footer Brook Lopez.
"Coming into this game were we concerned with the matchups," coach Larry Drew said. "The first three games we went big on them. This time we decided to go with our regular lineup and it turns out it was a good call by the coach. We were able to get out and run. Our speed and quickness was very obvious tonight."
The Hawks moved a half-game ahead of the Bulls and Celtics for the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference. Both teams own tie breakers over the Hawks. The Hawks also pulled a game behind the fourth-place Nets, who lost a chance to move into a virtual tie with the Knicks for the Atlantic Division lead and third place in the conference.
Horford finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds for the Hawks. He has scored in double-figures in 25 consecutive games.
Josh Smith added 21 points. Jeff Teague had 11 points, all in the second half, and tied a career-high with 15 assists off the bench after Devin Harris picked up two fouls at the start of the first and third quarters. Eight assists came in the third quarter.
Dahntay Jones had 13 points and Kyle Korver added 12 for the Hawks, who snapped a two-game losing streak to the Nets.
The Nets (38-28) lost for the second time in the past six games. Joe Johnson and Deron Williams had 18 points each and Brook Lopez had 17 points. Reggie Evans had 22 rebounds.
The Nets held a narrow 73-71 lead into the decisive final quarter. The Hawks led by as many as six points in the period but the Nets rallied behind nine points from Williams.
The Hawks started the fourth quarter with a lineup of Horford, Teague, Jones, Ivan Johnson and John Jenkins.
"They set the tone and got some big rebounds," Horford said of Johnson and Jenkins. "Defensively, that's how it started. Jeff getting a steal and a layup and from there it was downhill." The Hawks were also aggressive in the final quarter as five times they had chances at three-point plays, converting three of them.
The Hawks took a 51-49 lead at intermission in a game neither team led by more than four points through two quarters. DeShawn Stevenson hit a 3-pointer as the shot-clock expired with 10 seconds left in the second quarter for the margin.
Horford had 14 points to pace the early effort as nine of the 10 Hawks to enter the game scored. Korver had nine points, including a 3-pointer to run his streak to 59 straight games with a long-range basket. It's the seventh longest streak in NBA history behind Dana Barros' 89 consecutive games.
"I think that is when we are at our best," Teague said the up-tempo style. "I think Al has an advantage every time he goes against those big guys. He has the ability to pick-and-pop and get away from them and take them off the dribble. I think they need to adjust to the way we play." The win was important for the Hawks after getting blown out by the Nets 93-80 at home March 9. They did not want to enter the postseason having lost three of four to the Nets.
"The other game we just weren't into it," Teague said. "We had no effort and no energy. Guys were just tired when we started the game. Tonight, we came out with a lot of energy to start the game and came out with a win."
The Hawks return home to play the Mavericks on Monday. They could possibly make up more ground on the Nets who now must endure an eight-game, 17-day road trip, the longest in team history.
The Hawks have 16 games remaining in the regular season.
"For us, this is good because we are starting to build some momentum which we need," Horford said.
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