The shorthanded Atlanta Hawks needed a lift from someone and Josh Smith was up to the task Wednesday night. Smith finished two assists shy of a triple-double while helping lead the Hawks to a 104-92 win over the Charlotte Bobcats. The win gave the Hawks back-to-back wins for the first time this month and extended Charlotte's home losing streak to 16 games.
Atlanta came into the game without both of its top two options at the center position. Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia stayed behind in Atlanta nursing injuries. Horford has been battling a sore hamstring and a calf muscle while Pachulia has a sore Achilles.
The Hawks jumped out to a 28-20 lead in the first behind Smith who scored 10 of his game-high 30 in the opening period. Atlanta led by just seven at the break 53-46 despite shooting 50 percent from the field thanks to nine first half turnovers and their continued struggles at the free throw line. Smith picked back up where he left off in the third quarter and the Hawks were able to extend the lead to 79-67 by the start of the fourth.
The Hawks led by as many as 17 points but the Bobcats made a run in the fourth quarter. Jeff Adrien's put back dunk with 6:27 remaining cut the Atlanta lead to 88-81. Josh Smith went to the hole on the ensuing trip and was denied at the rim by Charlotte's Bismack Biyombo. Charlotte had a chance to cut the lead to just five points but Ivan Johnson erased a Biyombo dunk attempt with a dramatic blocked shot at the other end. A Jannero Pargo three extended the lead to 91-81 and the Hawks were able to cruise hom for the win.
Smith did a little bit of everything finishing with 30 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists and three blocks. His eight assists game him 2,000 for his career. He finished just two assists shy of a triple double and was just three turnovers shy of a dubious quadruple-double. We'll gladly overlook the turnovers on a night where 14 of Smith's 24 attempts came from inside the paint.
Ivan Johnson made his first career start for the Hawks and finished with a double-double 12 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. Kyle Korver added 21 points on 8-11 shooting, 5-6 from three-point range. Jeff Teague also finished in double figures with 10 points and six assists. Atlanta shot 49 percent for the game and hit 12-25 attempts from downtown.
Ramon Sessions led the Bobcats with 27 points off the bench. Ben Gordon added 15 while Kemba Walker pitched in 11.
The Hawks are off on Thursday and are back at it on Friday when they host the Boston Celtics at Philips Arena.