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Childress, Smith help Hawks rally past 76ers

Feb 5, 2008 - 4:35 AM ATLANTA (Ticker) - The Atlanta Hawks' two Joshes would not let their club suffer a crushing defeat on its home court.

Josh Childress scored 21 points and Josh Smith added 19 and matched a franchise record with eight first-half blocks as the Hawks rallied for a 96-91 victory over the struggling Philadelphia 76ers on Monday.

All-Star Joe Johnson poured in 18 points and reserve Tyronn Lue tallied 11 for the Hawks, who erased a 20-point first-quarter deficit.

"It was nice to see (the comeback)," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "I've been on the other side of that, when we were up 19 in Portland and didn't get it done. Our guys were aggressive."

The Hawks led by eight points midway through the final quarter before the Sixers scored nine of the next 11 points to cut the deficit to 89-88 on Andre Miller's two free throws with 2:46 remaining.

But with the game in the balance, Smith and the Hawks came up huge.

Johnson followed with a layup before Smith recorded his ninth block of the night, denying rookie Thaddeus Young's layup on the other end of the floor. Rookie Al Horford tipped in Johnson's miss to give Atlanta a 93-88 lead with 39 seconds left.

Horford ratcheted the Atlanta defensive intensity by swatting Miller's shot before Johnson hit 1-of-2 free throws to build a six-point cushion. Andre Iguodala completed a three-point play to cut the deficit to 4-91 with 19 seconds remaining before Smith iced the win with two free throws.

"Once we caught up, we just kind of played our basketball," Woodson said. "We were defending, trying to limit them to one shot, and then getting out and running. So everything kind of worked itself out."

The Hawks were late arriving to this contest, like much of the sparse Philips Arena crowd and looked overmatched by the lowly Sixers.

Philadelphia scored at will against Atlanta's porous offense, building a large lead.

Miller led the 76ers' assault, tallying nine points, Iguodala added eight and Young, a former Georgia Tech standout, had seven to help the Sixers to a 32-12 lead with 28 seconds remaining in the quarter.

Atlanta abandoned any concept of post play against Philadelphia's zone, settling instead for jump shots. As is quite characteristic of a Hawks club that is last in NBA from behind the 3-point arc, they struggled, missing 18 of their first 22 shots.

"Our shot selection was so terrible," Woodson said. "We missed some easy shots early, but we had no court balance coming back down the floor. And (Philadelphia) had like 15 transition points out of the gate. You're not going beat a team like that."

But the Smith wouldn't let the Hawks get embarrassed on their home court.

The 22-year-old Smith was dynamic on both ends of the floor in the second - scoring nine points, grabbing three boards, dishing four assists and swatting six shots.

"(Smith) picked his energy up in the second quarter, running around, blocking shots, getting rebounds and making plays on both ends of the court," Johnson said. "That's what we needed for sure."

"He changed the whole game," Woodson added. "He had five or six blocks in that stretch. We just have to lock in, and take the individual challenge to guard the ball. That's what we weren't doing, and he was covering up a lot of our mistakes."

An Atlanta native, Smith narrowly missed finishing with a triple-double, ending his evening with 19 points, nine blocks and nine assists.

It was the most blocks in a game for the former dunk champion since he swatted 10 shots against the Dallas Mavericks in his rookie season.

"It had to be up there with one of (my best games)," Smith said. "It was an all-around game, defensively and offensively."

"Josh changed the game with his blocked shots," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "Even when he doesn't block a shot, he has guys thinking about it when they shoot and that can mess up your offensive rhythm. Even though he only blocked nine shots, he altered many more."

Atlanta's second unit was also instrumental in its second-quarter comeback. Childress added 10 points, Lue chipped in five and Zaza Pachulia poured in four and grabbed four rebounds in the period to help Atlanta cut Philadelphia's lead to 50-44 at the break.

"We just got off to a slow start," Lue said. "I knew the bench had to come in and play well to try to get us back into the game."

"Our bench was great tonight in terms of coming in and giving us big-time effort and got us back into the ballgame," Woodson said. "Lue was huge, Childress was great."

Miller matched a season high with 29 points and Iguodala poured in 22 for the Sixers, who have dropped 10 of their last 12 games.

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