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Kukoc matches season high with 24 points

3/5/2002

ATLANTA (AP) -- Toni Kukoc loves hitting jumpers and weaving
passes to open teammates. Monday night, he had an even better time
watching Shareef Abdur-Rahim rest.

"That's a great thing," Kukoc said. "That always helps,
especially going into back-to-back nights."

Kukoc matched a season high with 24 points and Abdur-Rahim had
23 as the Atlanta Hawks beat the Memphis Grizzlies 95-76 for their
second consecutive victory.

Memphis has lost eight in a row, 10 of 11 and 21 of 24. Dropping
to 0-7 overall in Atlanta, the Grizzlies lowered their Western
Conference-worst road record to 6-26.

The Hawks' lead was comfortable enough that Abdur-Rahim, facing
his former team for the first time at home, didn't play in the
fourth quarter. After Atlanta rallied to beat Cleveland on Saturday
night, Abdur-Rahim knows the Cavaliers will be ready when they face
the Hawks again.

"It's a good way to end the game," Abdur-Rahim said. "We
don't get many nights like this, so we have to sit back and enjoy
it."

Atlanta has won three of four overall and eight of 13.

Jason Terry, coming off a 1-for-14 performance Saturday, hit a
3-pointer with 3:15 left in the third quarter as the Hawks began to
pull away for the second time. After making it 63-49, Terry left
five seconds later after picking up his fourth foul.

Kukoc, a reserve forward, followed with consecutive 3-pointers
from the left corner to give the Hawks their first 18-point lead
since the second quarter. Kukoc, who went 9-for-11 in scoring 23
Saturday, began the fourth with a three-point play before hitting
another 3 that put Atlanta ahead by 22.

Following a pair of free throws, Kukoc's 3-pointer from the top
of the key made it 84-61. He finished with 7-for-8 shooting,
including all four attempts on 3s, and hit each of his six free
throws. Kukoc scored 21 points in the second half.

"I can really feel my legs under me now," said Kukoc, in his
seventh game back after missing 18 with a broken right wrist. "I
ran a lot while I was out, and it's made a difference now that I'm
back."

Shane Battier led the Grizzlies with 20 points, ending a
six-game stretch in which he scored no more than 18.

The injury-marred Grizzlies again were without point guards
Jason Williams and Brevin Knight.

"We can't shoot, bottom line," Memphis coach Sidney Lowe said.
"Wide open shots -- we can't score 80 points. It's trickling down
to the free throws. We have 31 attempts, but only make 18. We don't
have enough weapons, which makes it extremely difficult."

Atlanta led by as many as 18 points in the second quarter, but
Eddie Gill's 16-foot jumper on the right side made it 48-42 early
in the third. After the Hawks went up by 10, Battier answered with
a 3-pointer from the right corner.

"There are no easy losses in this league," said Battier, a
rookie guard. "It was another game where we were short-handed. In
this stretch, we have been undermanned, and we've lost. We can't
expect to win when we shoot in the low 40s."

Game notes
Williams, out with ingrown toenails, is likely to see a
specialist this week. The fourth-year point guard has missed seven
consecutive games and 15 of the last 16. ... Kukoc, who missed 23
games with injuries, also scored 24 points in a Nov. 29 victory at
Cleveland. ... Lorenzen Wright, who joined Knight in the trade that
sent Abdur-Rahim to the Hawks, had a team-high seven rebounds in
his return to Atlanta.