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Ratliff does the dirty work to beat Hornets

11/17/2002

ATLANTA (AP) -- This was the type of game the Atlanta Hawks have been waiting for from Theo Ratliff.

Ratliff, who battled various injuries the past 1½ seasons, tied a career high with 17 rebounds and blocked five shots in Atlanta's 89-82 win over the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday night.

"I feel like I can prevent a lot of things and make people change a lot of shots,'' said Ratliff, who played just three games last year and missed the final 28 games of the 2000-2001 season with injuries.

Shareef Abdur-Rahim scored 27 points and Glenn Robinson 24 for the Hawks, playing their first home game in two weeks.

But the game essentially belonged to Ratliff. New Orleans' Baron Davis came in shooting 42 percent for the year, but made just 5-of-21 from the field.

"The job Theo did inside was just incredible,'' Atlanta coach Lon Kruger said. "He just really changes the game.''

Playing in front of a crowd of 17,128, Atlanta won its second straight, converting 20-of-30 free throws -- compared to New Orleans' 14-of-19.

Jamal Mashburn scored 19 points, David Wesley 18 and P.J. Brown had 13 points and 14 rebounds for the Hornets, who had won six of their previous seven games, but made just 35 percent of their field-goal attempts.

"Our field-goal percentage was horrible,'' Brown said. "It was a free-throw game for them. We settled for jump shots. We weren't going to the basket.''

The Hawks, who dropped three of five games on their western road trip, improved to 3-0 at home.

New Orleans' last lead was at 34-32, erased by Jason Terry's 3-pointer with 6:30 left in the second.

In a first half that featured nine lead changes, New Orleans went on a 9-0 run midway through the first period and took a 20-12 lead on Brown's basket with 4:47 left in the period. Atlanta outscored the Hornets 13-4 over the rest of the period to take a one-point lead.

The Hawks closed the half with a 12-5 run, leading 44-39 at the break and holding the upper hand the rest of the way.

Atlanta's biggest lead of the night was 15, that coming 2½ minutes into the fourth quarter.

The Hornets, playing their fifth game in seven days, were
consistently burned by Abdur-Rahim and Robinson, especially in the
first period, when they shot a combined 9-of-13 from the field and scored 23 of the Hawks' 25 points in the quarter.

"I think fatigue caught up to us at the end,'' Davis said.
"When you're tired, you think your legs are into your shot, and
they're not. I think that's why we were missing so many.''

New Orleans played much of the second half without post players
Jamal Magloire and P.J. Brown, and Atlanta took advantage. After
seeing its lead cut to 53-51, Atlanta's 5-0 run got the lead to
seven.

"It could have very easily been a blowout,'' New Orleans coach
Paul Silas said. "But tonight, at least we made it a game.''

The Hawks led 76-61 on Ratliff's jumper early in the fourth
before Courtney Alexander came off the bench to spark at New
Orleans rally, making a pair of 3-pointers in a 10-3 run, cutting
the lead to 78-71, but they got no closer.

"They made their run, but there's a lot of difference between
making a run to cut it to eight and making one to tie or take the
lead,'' Kruger said.

Game notes
The Hawks blocked 11 shots, including the five by Ratliff
and a career-high three by Ira Newble. ... Atlanta, ranked 22nd in
the NBA in turnovers, committed 17, which New Orleans converted
into 20 points. ... The Hornets had won nine of their previous 12
between the two teams. ... Long-time Los Angeles Dodgers manager
Tom Lasorda attended.