Smith Leads Hawks Past Visiting Wizards
Atlanta 114, Washington 101
ATLANTA, April 7 (Ticker) -- High-flying swingman Josh Smith is not usually known for his shooting ability.
Smith had 25 points, eight rebounds and four blocks and Joe Johnson added 20 points as the Atlanta Hawks posted a 114-101 triumph over the Washington Wizards, who wasted a 41-point performance by Gilbert Arenas.
"He's been playing unbelievably," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "He's made plays where at first I am saying, 'No, no, no,' then it's a great play."
The 6-9 Smith had not made a 3-pointer in any of the team's first 49 games, but has drained 25 over his past 24 contests.
"It's just confidence," Smith said. "I took my time to critique it and work on it with (assistant coach) Larry Drew. By getting my fingers on the seams every time I shoot it, now when it leaves my hand, it feels good. I've worked hard to improve my all-around game and this is just one part of it. I still have a lot of work to do, but I'll keep working to get better."
"It's just a confident Josh," added second-year swingman Josh Childress, who scored 12 points. "He's playing with confidence and, after the All-Star break, both of us made up our minds to step up and play."
Atlanta held an 80-75 lead after three quarters and pulled away for good when Smith drained a 3-pointer and Johnson made a floater in the lane to make it 95-83 with five minutes remaining.
Zaza Pachulia collected 16 points and eight rebounds and rookie Marvin Williams and Tyronn Lue scored 11 points apiece for the Hawks, who shot 48 percent (33-of-68) overall.
Arenas, who missed six minutes of the second quarter with sprained lower back, made 11-of-27 shots, including 6-of-11 from the arc for Washington (39-36), which is 2 1/2 games ahead of Milwaukee for the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference.
"It's that time of the season when you need every game," said Arenas, who recorded his 10th 40-point game of the campaign. "You have to go out there and bang it out."
Atlanta, which is averaging just over 26 free-throw attempts, shot a season-high 49 times from the line and missed just 10.
"We were aggressive tonight," Woodson said. "When we got into the paint, we took advantage of it. We attempted 49 free throws, that's a season-high for us."
"Just getting to the line and making free throws is a confidence builder in itself," Childress said. "It keeps the defense honest."
The Wizards were without forward Caron Butler and reserve guard Antonio Daniels due to injuries.
"For the team to play like that shorthanded, missing Caron and Antonio, I'm proud of my guys," Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. "It was one great valiant performance by our team, especially Gilbert."
Atlanta registered its first victory over Washington in nine tries.
"We owe these guys because one time in the year, they beat us pretty bad," said Hawks forward Al Harrington, who had 10 points and nine rebounds. "Other than that, we were in close games with them and down the stretch, they would out-execute us."