Josh Smith clinched the game and Al Horford dominated throughout as the Hawks defeated the high-flying Denver Nuggets 108-104 at Philips Arena on Wednesday night.
It was Smith’s 27th birthday and he celebrated in style, closing out the game with a steal, dunk and free throw to complete a three point play and seal the game.
Horford finished with a team-leading 25 points and also grabbed 12 rebounds. Smith snatched 13 boards to lead the team and had 16 points.
Hawks coach Larry Drew called the win “a gutsy performance” as his team bounced back from Friday’s 113-111 loss to Cleveland that snapped a six-game winning streak.
“I’m just happy that we pushed through it,” Drew said. “The difference was we kept pushing. We didn’t break. We didn’t bend.”
Part of the Hawks success was found by using a big lineup against the Nuggets who were without starting center Kosta Koufos. He was replaced in the starting lineup by “Tha God” Timofey Mozgov.
The Hawks started big man Zaza Pachulia at center and moved Horford to the power forward. Pachulia finished with 11 points, all in the second half. Lou Williams led the team with six assists.
The big games from Smith and Horford helped the Hawks overcome a Herculean effort from Denver’s diminutive point guard Ty Lawson. The 5’11″ Lawson had 32 points, 7 assists and 5 steals in the game, but turned it over twice late in the game to help the Hawks seal the victory.
The Hawks have a chance to get another winning streak rolling. The team’s next game is against the 2-13 Washington Wizards at Philips Arena on Friday.