Smith Hits Clutch Shots As Hawks Top Nets
Atlanta 104, New Jersey 102 (OT)
ATLANTA, Feb. 27 (Ticker) -- Josh Smith showed he can do a little more than just dunk.
Smith hit clutch jumpers late in regulation and overtime as the Atlanta Hawks posted a 104-102 triumph over the New Jersey Nets.
After Jason Kidd split a pair of free throws with 13 seconds left in regulation to give the Nets a 94-92 lead, Smith answered by burying a jumper from the deep left corner with 4.9 seconds to go.
"I was kind of down on myself early on in the game," Smith said. "(Hawks assistant) Larry Drew kept telling me to keep shooting my shot because it was right on target. The opportunity came, Al Harrington swung the ball to me and I knocked down the jump shot."
"He's grown up," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "Last year we would have cringed when he shot the basketball. Now his shot looks like a shot. He's 100 percent better than he was last year, but he still has a long way to go."
Smith also made a crucial shot in the extra session, draining a jumper with 33 seconds left for a 104-100 lead. He made 6-of-12 shots overall.
"Coach has put confidence in me," said Smith, who entered the game shooting under 42 percent this season. "He knows I have been working on my jump shot, so he doesn't have any problem with me taking it. All year I've been knocking down jump shots. People just haven't seen our games."
Vince Carter, who was playing through a sore right hamstring, scored inside two seconds later to pull the Nets within one possession. A shot-clock violation then gave the Nets a final chance.
Guarded by Harrington, Carter pulled up for a long 3-pointer that rattled in and out. Nenad Krstic missed a point-blank follow shot as time expired.
"If the opportunity was there, I was going for the win," said Carter, who drained a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired at Toronto on January 8. "It did everything but fall in. If you paused it midway and asked if it was good, I would have said, '(Heck) yeah.'"
"We drew up the play, put the ball in Vince's hands, and whatever decision he made, we'd take it and see what happens," Kidd said. "It just rattled in and out and Curly (Krstic) had a chance to tip it in. The ball just didn't bounce our way."
Harrington scored 22 points and Smith and Joe Johnson added 19 apiece for the Hawks, who placed six players in double figures in beating another division leader at home. Johnson also handed out 11 assists.
Atlanta (18-37), which also owns wins over league-leading Detroit (47-9) and San Antonio (43-12), made Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey (31-25) its latest victim.
Smith split a pair of free throws with 9:29 left in the third quarter to give the Hawks their biggest lead at 51-40. However, the Nets got back into it behind Carter and Richard Jefferson.
Carter, who left Sunday's game against Indiana in the first quarter, scored 11 of his 22 points in the third period. Jefferson added nine of his 22 as the Nets clawed within 69-68 entering the fourth quarter.
"(My hamstring) felt better as the game went on," said Carter, who scored just five points on 2-for-8 shooting in the first half. You're going to feel it. I knew that. It was kind of sore. Once I got over that, I was able to play."
Kidd finished with 19 points, a season-high 17 assists and nine rebounds for the Nets, who fell to 13-17 on the road.
Zaza Pachulia added 14 points and 12 rebounds for Atlanta, which shot 47.5 percent (38-of-80) and held a 48-38 advantage on the boards.