Williams, Smith lead Hawks past SunsNov 8, 2007 - 4:14 AM By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
ATLANTA (Ticker) -- By winning at home against the Phoenix Suns, the resurgent Atlanta Hawks did something just one Eastern Conference home team did all last season.
Josh Smith scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Marvin Williams added 20 and 12 to lead the young Hawks past the Suns, 105-96, on Wednesday.
Reserve Josh Childress had 19 points and 10 rebounds and rookie Al Horford also hauled in a season-high 15 boards for Atlanta, which held a 56-40 advantage on the glass over Phoenix.
"When we came into this year, my ideal of those three (Smith, Williams and Childress) was if they made the turn and played well enough every night, they put us in a position to win," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "Those three delivered today."
"Defensively, we were solid," Childress said. "It's just a matter of keeping the fast tempo. Myself and Josh have always been rebound-minded. Marvin has been developing that mentality, and Al (Horford) is another guy who is like that."
The Suns, who lost here for the first time since March 15, 2002, blistered the Eastern Conference on the road last season, losing just once to the Philadelphia 76ers in their 15-game slate. They extended their streak to 15 of 16 after defeating the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday.
In that one, eight Phoenix players found themselves in double digits on the scoresheet in a 32-point rout.
But playing in their second game in as many nights, the Suns faltered once again, just like they did in the back-end of a back-to-back in their home opener against the Los Angeles Lakers on November 2.
This time it was the Hawks, the NBA's youngest team at 25 years and 193 days, who proceeded to outrun and outgun the Suns.
"We ran into a team that was more athletic than we are," Suns guard Steve Nash said.
Atlanta opened up the decisive fourth quarter with a 10-5 run and took a 90-81 lead on Williams' long jump shot with 7:26 remaining before Phoenix exploded four six points to cut the lead to three.
However, with the game in the balance, the third-year standout from North Carolina delivered, answering Nash shot-for-shot, including another deep jumper with 3:31 remaining to give the Hawks a 94-89 lead.
"I was pretty surprised (I was wide open)," Williams said. "Joe (Johnson) did a great job all night finding open guys."
"I knew they were going to double-team," said Johnson, who scored just 15 points on a dismal 3-for-17 shooting but dished a team-high 10 assists. "I was just taking it down to the post. I was pretty much baiting them, when they were double-teaming me, I found open guys."
After Johnson connected on two free throws, Smith put the final dagger in the Suns' coffin by connecting on a three-point play with 1:47 remaining to give the Hawks a 99-89 cushion.
"I was able to get the rebound and the putback," Smith said. "I wanted to bring energy to my team. That was a big rebound and score."
Atlanta connected on 52-percent (14-of-27) from the field in the first quarter and held an impressive 13-8 advantage on the boards to build a 32-27 advantage before embarking on an 8-3 run to open the second quarter, taking a 40-31 lead with 8:42 remaining. Childress capped the run with a pair of free throws en route to scoring 12 points in the first half.
The Suns endured a strange second quarter, in which the club was 0-of-11 from inside the arc, but connected on 6-of-13 from 3-point range - becoming the first club since the Hawks on February 20, 2007 to finish a quarter without a two-point field goal.
Phoenix also wasted a tremendous night from Nash, who tallied 34 points, including seven 3-pointers. The 33-year old Canadian added five rebounds and 11 assists in the losing effort.
"(The Hawks) came in ready to play tonight," Suns guard Raja Bell said. "They had a good energy about them and they deserved to win."
Nash helped the Suns get back in the contest with a tremendous third quarter. The two-time MVP tallied 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting, including two 3-pointers, to cut Atlanta's lead to 80-76. But Phoenix could not get over the hump, playing without two-time All-Star center Amare Stoudemire, who missed his third consecutive game with a sore right knee.
"We just couldn't find a combination that worked, and once we got close, we would miss shots that we should have knocked down," said Suns coach Mike D'Antoni, whose team was outscored 29-9 in second-chance opportunities. "The second-chance points were too much, which is why we need a guy like Amare around."
ATLANTA 105 FINAL
Nov 7 9:21 PM
ATLANTA 80 END, 3RD QTR
Nov 7 8:43 PM
ATLANTA 55 HALFTIME
Nov 7 8:04 PM
ATLANTA 32 END, 1ST QTR
Nov 7 7:34 PM
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