ATLANTA — For one of the few times this season, the Atlanta Hawks looked more like the team that reached the Eastern Conference final than the one that has struggled to find a consistent attack.
Forward Paul Millsap and guard Kyle Korver — two key pieces of the club that won 60 games in 2014-15 — combined for 48 points and the Atlanta Hawks beat the Detroit Pistons 105-98 on Friday at Philips Arena to climb over the .500 mark for the first time since Nov. 30.
“It’s never easy,” Millsap said. “It’s good to get two in a row and take care of business at home.”
Atlanta got 26 points, six rebounds and five assists from Millsap and won back-to-back games for the first time since Dec. 9. Millsap has scored at least 20 points in seven of 12 games since missing three games with a hip injury.
Korver shot 7-for-13 from the field, including three 3-pointers, and scored a season-high 22 points as Atlanta avenged an earlier 36-point loss to the Piston. Korver’s previous high was 19 points against Toronto on Dec. 16.
“Kyle Korver hasn’t had as many good games this year, but the guy really knows how to play basketball and how to move without the ball,” Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy said.
Atlanta led by as many as 17 points in the third quarter, only to have Detroit trim the lead to four points on guard Reggie Jackson’s driving basket with 4:14 remaining. Atlanta regained control on a pair of baskets by center Dwight Howard, one that led to a three-point play.
Howard recorded his 21st double-double, getting 10 points and 15 rebounds. Atlanta (17-16) also got 14 points and seven assists from point guard Dennis Schroder and 10 points from guard Kent Bazemore.
Detroit (15-20) was led by Jackson with 20 points and eight assists and forward Jon Leuer with a season-high 22 points. Center Andre Drummond had 15 points and 15 rebounds, his 15th double-double. Forward Tobias Harris scored 14 and guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 12.
“We did have more fight in us tonight,” Van Gundy said. “Now we should never have gotten down 17, but we didn’t let it go, we fought to the end, got a little better spirit and enthusiasm. If we continue with that at the offensive end of the floor, we have a chance to move forward.”
Detroit has lost two straight and seven of its last eight games.
Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer was pleased with his team’s 29 assists, which included seven from backup point guard Malcolm Delaney in 16 minutes.
Van Gundy was displeased with his team’s 18 turnovers, six by Drummond and five by Caldwell-Pope.
“I thought there were two main differences and a lot of little things,” Van Gundy said. “Eighteen turnovers and really, really questionable offensive decisions and Kyle Korver. We lost him too many times.”
Leuer started hot with eight points in the first quarter, which finished with at 19-19 tie.
The Hawks used a 17-10 in the second quarter to take a seven-point lead for the first time with 6:03 left. The Pistons didn’t let the Hawks stretch the lead any further until Atlanta got a three-point play by Bazemore, then made it 51-41 at halftime on a give-and-go to Korver under the basket. Korver scored all 11 of his first-half points in the second quarter.
Atlanta kept the momentum in the third period, scoring the first seven points, including a 3 by Bazemore, to up its lead to 17 with 10:49 left.
“I thought the activity defensively and the effort defensively for three quarters, for the majority of the game, was good,” Budenholzer said.
“We broke down at other times and gave up cuts and other things late in the possession,” Van Gundy said. “So we played a lot harder, but had too many breakdowns to win on the road.”
NOTES: Atlanta is now 10-3 when holding the opposition to fewer than 100 points. … Detroit returned F Tobias Harris to the starting lineup after a three-game test and moved Marcus Morris to the bench. … Atlanta rookie F Ryan Kelly missed Friday’s game for the birth of his daughter, Tess Eden Kelly. He is expected to be available for Sunday’s game. Tiago Splitter was Atlanta’s other inactive. Detroit’s inactive players were F Reggie Bullock and G Michael Gbinije. … Atlanta F Thabo Sefolosha would not comment on remarks made by New York’s Carmelo Anthony, who claimed innocence of the charges he struck Sefolosha on Wednesday night. Anthony said Sefolosha “flopped.” Sefolosha said, “Whoever wants to look at the tape, it shows exactly what happened.” … Atlanta hosts San Antonio, while Detroit travels to Miami for games on Jan. 1.