ATLANTA — With his team missing three starters and on the brink of losing for the eighth consecutive game, it was an optimum time for Dennis Schroder to rise to the occasion.
The Atlanta guard overcame some uneven play, scored 27 points and helped the Hawks recover from blowing an 18-point lead to beat the Phoenix Suns 95-91 on Tuesday at Philips Arena.
“It feels great to get a win,” Schroder said. “Now it’s time to start a winning streak.”
Schroder scored 17 points in the first half and went virtually dormant — just two points in the third quarter — until the final period when he hit a pair of 3-pointers during a 17-1 run that put the Hawks ahead to stay.
Schroder added nine assists and six rebounds to offset eight turnovers as Atlanta ended a seven-game losing streak and won for the first time since March 11.
“Those were two big threes by Dennis when we were down,” Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said.
Atlanta (38-36) got a double-double from Ersan Ilyasova, who had 18 points and 12 rebounds. Taurean Price scored 15 and Dwight Howard had 15 points and 11 rebounds.
“A win is a win,” Prince said. “We need to get some W’s on the road, just keep doing what we have to do to get better.”
Phoenix (22-53) was led by TJ Warren, who tallied 24 points and eight rebounds. Tyler Ulis added 15 points, 10 assists and six rebounds. Derrick Jones Jr. scored 13 points and Alex Len added 12.
Neither team had all their front-line players available. The Hawks were without leading scorer Paul Millsap, who missed his sixth game with synovitis in his left knee; Kent Bazemore, who missed his fifth game with a right knee contusion; and Thabo Sefolosha, who missed his second straight game with a right groin strain. Phoenix guard Devin Booker, who scored 70 points two games ago, did not play because of sore ankle.
Atlanta took advantage of poor shooting by Phoenix in the first quarter and ran out to a 27-12 lead. The Suns shot just 19.2 percent. Atlanta shot 58 percent and Schroder scored 13 points.
Atlanta stretched the lead to 18, but its shooting faltered in the second quarter (27 percent) and the Suns got back in the game. Warren scored on a layup with 3.4 seconds left and Phoenix scored the last seven points to trim Atlanta’s lead to 47-44 at halftime.
“The first quarter we held them to 12 points. The defense was outstanding,” Budenholzer said. “They got away from us, started making shots. I thought they really started crashing the boards in the second quarter and offensively we got a little stagnant.”
The Suns came all the way back in the third quarter and tied the game at 58-58 on Len’s slam at 5:43. Phoenix was never able to take the lead and Atlanta held a 71-68 lead after the third period. The Suns finally went ahead 72-71 with 10:37 left in the game when Alan Williams dropped in a layup.
“We fought to get back in it,” Suns coach Earl Watson said. “Our guys played well — a lot of effort, a lot of energy. It was the last game of a long (six-game) road trip and a lot of teams just kind of pack it in, ready to go home. Our guys stayed in the moment and had a chance to win down the stretch.”
Phoenix held its biggest lead at 78-71, but scored 11 straight points to regain the momentum. Schroder made consecutive 3-pointers and Prince had a layup and a three-point play to give the Hawks an 82-78 lead with 5:34.
“I thought our guys executed and had a lot of good shots,” Watson said. “We just missed the shots.”
Atlanta needed a win to keep pace with Milwaukee and avoid putting its playoff hopes in further danger.
“Just keep competing,” Budenholzer said. “That was our message, our mantra. Can we compete harder? Even when we were down, they stepped up and did that.”
NOTES: Atlanta G Kent Bazemore is expected to be back for Wednesday’s game at Philadelphia. G Thabo Sefolosha will travel with the team, but isn’t expected to play. F Paul Millsap had a non-surgical procedure on his left knee and will miss two more games before being re-evaluated. … Atlanta G Tim Hardaway had his streak of consecutive games with a 3-pointer end at 25. … The 12 points allowed by Atlanta in the first period was a season best for the Hawks. The Hawks held New Orleans to 14 points on Nov. 22. … Atlanta plays again on Wednesday at Philadelphia. Phoenix returns home on Thursday to play the Los Angeles Clippers.