ATLANTA (AP)—Slowly, the Atlanta Hawks’ rookies are gaining momentum.
Point guard Royal Ivey made his first start and forwards Josh Childress and Josh Smith combined for 30 points and several highlight-worthy jams as the Atlanta Hawks snapped a five-game losing streak by beating the Dallas Mavericks 113-100 Wednesday night.
Antoine Walker led the Hawks with 25 points, but he recognized the significance of the increasing rise to prominence of the team’s rookies.
“I think it’s great,” Walker said. “They are the future of this team and we need them. They catch a lot of teams by surprise, because some teams don’t know what they’re good at.”
Childress had 16 points, four assists and three steals, and Smith added 14 points with nine rebounds one game after he blocked 10 shots—a high mark in the NBA this season.
Smith, making his seventh straight start, excited Hawks fans with several powerful dunks.
“The guy is tremendous,” Mavericks guard Jason Terry said of Smith. “He’s going to be a star in this league. It’s amazing how he can turn a game around.”
Smith’s blocked shots were about the only positive statistic for the Hawks in the 90-68 loss at Dallas on Saturday night, and he said Atlanta’s players spent the three days between games thinking about the loss.
“We wanted revenge because they beat us so bad,” Smith said. “Hopefully this game set the tone for how we should play.”
Held to under 70 points in two of their last three losses, the Hawks enjoyed their best offensive game of the season. Atlanta set a scoring high and had six players in double figures for the first time.
“Turnovers killed us, and it led to easy baskets,” Dallas coach Don Nelson said. “I’m just disappointed with everybody, to be quite honest with you. … I thought I was going to get a good effort and just didn’t get anything.”
Dallas had three starters each score 23 points. One night after he set career highs with 26 points and 16 rebounds against the New York Knicks, Josh Howard had 23 with five rebounds. Terry, the former longtime Hawks guard, and Dirk Nowitzki also had 23. Nowitzki fouled out with less than a minute left to play.
“We just weren’t ready to play,” Nowitzki said. “It didn’t help that we beat them by 30 at our place. … The bottom line was we weren’t ready to play. We could have been beaten by anybody tonight.”
The Hawks tied their franchise low with only 28 first-half points against the Mavericks on Saturday night. Led by Walker’s 15 points, Atlanta matched that first-half total in just the first period Wednesday night, leading 28-22 at the end of the quarter.
The Hawks stretched the edge to 11 points in the second period but had to settle for a 48-46 halftime lead as they were outscored 13-2 in free throws in the quarter.
Smith excited fans with two powerful jams in the third quarter, including one on an alley-oop pass from Walker that gave Atlanta a 63-57 lead. Smith added a reverse jam in the fourth quarter on a pass from Harrington, sparking a series of dunks from Harrington and Childress as the Hawks stretched the lead to 98-84.
Ivey had five points and two steals in his first career start for Atlanta as Boris Diaw did not play. … G Jerry Stackhouse missed his third straight game for Dallas with a sore right hand. … Willis set a season high with his 12 points. … Terry and Alan Henderson made their first return to Atlanta since they were traded to Dallas last August for Walker and Delk. … Mavericks owner Mark Cuban attended the game.