Hawks run past Suns behind Smith, Horford

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Hawks knew that Wednesday's emotional win over the Lakers would be invalidated if they couldn't put away the Phoenix Suns Friday. To do it, they had to ignore the Suns' record and the dead Philips Arena atmosphere. But they were able to capitalize on the Suns' turnovers for the 107-94 win.
"We really wanted to try to force the tempo very early to get our energy up," Hawks coach Larry Drew said. "We had 20 transition points in the first half, so that tells me we were pushing the ball, getting it up the floor."
Hawks forward Josh Smith, who scored 11 points in the first quarter but only two more points in the second quarter, ended with 17 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.
Al Horford, whose shot was off all night, had only four points and five rebounds in the first half. He finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds, however, for his 36th double-double.
Devin Harris, starting in place of Jeff Teague (sprained left ankle) for the second consecutive game, dominated the first half, scoring all 15 of his points, hitting 6 of 8 shots before halftime.
Kyle Korver, with 16 points, extended to 58 his streak of consecutive games making at least one 3-point basket. He hit four of them Friday.
The Hawks (36-29) led by 11 points at halftime, 57-46. They outscored the Suns (22-44) 20-3 in fast-break points in the first half.
"That's the way we want to play," Korver said of the fast-break production. "That's when we're at our best. That's when our weapons are being used to their best potential."
But the biggest difference came from beyond the arc. The Hawks made 12 of 23 3-point attempts while the Suns hit only 2 of 16.
"Twenty-four turnovers was pretty much the ball game for us," Suns interim coach Lindsey Hunter said. "And some of our shots were like turnovers because they were pretty bad.
"On the road you can't turn the ball over and make mental mistakes defensively. I think we did both of those things when the game still was manageable.
"We gambled on some plays that really weren't called for. And we gave up easy, easy 3s."
Goran Dragic, who had 19 points when the Suns beat the Hawks 92-87 in Phoenix on Mar. 1, followed that up with 21 points and eight assists.
Jermaine O'Neal, finding a rhythm in the third quarter after a six-point first half, finished with 18 points to go with five rebounds for the Suns. Markieff Morris had 15 points and 11 rebounds.
The Suns were scoreless from 4:53 to :21.5 in the third quarter, helping the Hawks increase their lead to 14 points.
"They have great players in the low post, Josh Smith and Al Horford," Dragic said. "A lot of times when Josh Smith had the ball we tried to bring the guy from the other side. He's a great passer, he found open guys and we were too late. Especially when the weak side is Korver. He's a great shooter. And they were making shots."
NOTES: Hawks coach Larry Drew said that the two starters who missed Wednesday's 96-92 win over the Lakers -- Smith (sprained left knee) and Teague (sprained left ankle) -- were game-time decisions. By the time he said that, Smith had already confirmed on his way into the locker room that he would play. He started but Teague, once he cooled down after warming up early, didn't feel comfortable and did not start. ... Drew, noting that the Suns "man-handled us down in Phoenix (in a 92-87 loss Mar. 1)" -- particularly O'Neal -- said, "We can't look at their record." ... The Hawks wore the red and black road uniforms they used from 1995-99. Those teams had a record of 183-113 (.618). ... The Suns' second bus was caught up in Atlanta's notorious Friday traffic and didn't arrive at the arena until 6:20 p.m. for the 7:40 game. ... Hunter acknowledged that, "It's a long, tedious process to get where we want to go," which is tough given all the changes they've had. Hunter said his players do a lot of little things well but, "We have to do a lot of collective things great to be a good team. That's what separates good teams from just average teams -- or bad teams."