By DONNELL SUGGS (Special to the Daily World)
The Atlanta Hawks opened a four-game home stand with a re-match against the Charlotte Bobcats on Jan. 12, and similar to the previous meeting, won in dramatic style.
The major difference this time was that the Hawks won by 30 points, 111-81, unlike the six-point overtime margin on Jan. 6.
Atlanta began the game shorthanded with forwards Marvin Williams and Tracy McGrady, and starting center Al Horford, sidelined with injuries.
Most noticeably was Horford’s absence. With a torn pectoral muscle, Horford reportedly underwent successful shoulder surgery on Jan. 17, but is not expected to return for 3 to 4 months.
In light of a modified lineup, the Hawks used a total team effort to handily defeat the Bobcats, and Joe Johnson set the offensive pace early in the first quarter by going 5-for-7 from the field for 13 points.
But it was Atlanta forward Josh Smith’s 30 points on 14-of-22 shooting, along with 13 rebounds that set the stage for the lopsided victory. Smith used an array of shots – from dunks, to 3-pointers to drives to the basket – to score a season-high effort that kept the visitors from ever getting closer than 12 points.
Jeff Teague, playing with increasing confidence since taking over the starting point guard position this season, ended the quarter with a 3-pointer that gave the Hawks a 25-21 lead.
Atlanta only allowed 19 Bobcats’ points in the third quarter despite an aggressive offensive effort by Charlotte center B.J. Mullens. Mullens finished with a team-high 21 points, and teammate Gerald Henderson had 16, with two of those coming off of a ferocious dunk to once again cut the Atlanta lead back to 12 early in the fourth stanza.
However, Smith scored on consecutive trips down the floor to complete a 10-4 run by the Hawks that put Charlotte away for good.
Atlanta’s bench has been a “go-to” source all season for keeping the offense running while giving the starters resting time. Rookie reserve forward Ivan Johnson had an impressive night, playing for over 20 minutes and scoring 12 points and adding seven rebounds.
Even 37-year-old backup guard Jerry Stackhouse got into the action, scoring on a two-handed fast-break dunk with seconds remaining in the game.
Johnson finished with 23 points, seven rebounds and eight assists, while Jeff Teague added 16 points, six rebounds and seven assists and six rebounds for the Hawks.
Shorthanded Hawks Shortchange Timberwolves
Following a huge win over the Charlotte Bobcats, the Atlanta Hawks played their second matchup of four-game home