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Nets-Hawks Preview

By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO

STATS Writer

(AP) -- The Atlanta Hawks are one of four Eastern Conference teams with a winning record, thanks in large part to their success at home.

They may officially be considered the host Thursday, but they'll be a long way from Atlanta when the game tips off at the O2 Arena.

The Hawks seek their third win in four games and will try to avoid another loss to the Brooklyn Nets when the teams meet in the NBA's first regular-season game in London.

Atlanta (20-18) has gone 14-5 at home this season and has been particularly impressive while winning 10 of its last 12 there, yielding an average of 95.8 points compared to 106.4 during a 2-9 stretch as the visitor.

The lack of consistency was on display in a 108-101 loss at Memphis on Sunday that followed home victories over East-leading Indiana and Houston.

"We're trying to build something here and we all know it's going to take some time," coach Mike Budenholzer said. "Part of it is the system and part of it is just everything. It takes time to build something that's really successful and something that's sustainable and I think we've made some good initial steps."

Spending some time - and winning a game - over 4,000 miles away from home could provide another.

"I think the fact it's a regular-season game changes the dynamics a little bit, but there's still a lot of positives for our whole group, spending time together and experiencing another country and another culture," Budenholzer said.

The Hawks shot 38.6 percent while making a season-low 27 field goals in a 91-86 loss at Brooklyn (15-22) on Jan. 6.

Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague had 16 points apiece in that matchup, combining to go just 9 of 27 from the floor. The duo was much better Sunday, totaling 41 points while sinking half of their 32 shots.

Mike Scott, who is averaging 8.1 points this season, has been a pleasant surprise off the bench of late. The second-year forward has scored 14.7 points while shooting 56.3 percent from the field over the last three games.

"His abilities are a good fit for us," Budenholzer said. "His ability to stretch the floor and make 3s, and then he plays with a great pace and in transition he gets out and runs, and can slam down some dunks."

Kyle Korver continues to be a threat from long range, sinking 47.7 percent to rank among the league leaders. His record for consecutive games with at least one 3 has reached 107 games. Korver's only basket against the Nets last week was a 3-pointer.

The Nets are visiting London after fatigue may have played a part in their latest performance. Their five-game winning streak ended with a 96-80 loss at Toronto on Saturday after they outlasted Miami 104-95 in double-overtime a night earlier.

They're now hoping the layoff has limited any effects from jet lag.

"It is tough to travel, especially when you travel more than four hours," forward Andrei Kirilenko said. "We spending the majority of our time sitting. This is the problem. You sitting on the plane, you sitting on the bus. Your back gets hurt, stiff. Especially when you're tall.

"It's just tough to prepare yourself after that. I think it's great that we have four or five days in between, so we have a chance to recover."

Joe Johnson may agree after going 4 for 13 from the field and finishing with 11 points Saturday. The guard was averaging 27.3 points over the previous three games, including 23 against the Hawks.

Paul Pierce had nine points in that meeting, but he's averaging 16.3 since.

Coach Jason Kidd is trying to keep the Nets focused on beating Atlanta for the fourth time in five tries and from being swept up in the surrounding hoopla of playing in London.

"This is a business trip," Kidd said.

Updated January 15, 2014

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