Johnson, Smith Lead Hawks to Another Win
By PAUL NEWBERRY
AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) -- When Joe Johnson is scoring and Josh Smith is doing a little bit of everything, the Atlanta Hawks are awfully hard to beat.
The Miami Heat got a sampling of that 1-2 punch Wednesday night.
Johnson made it two straight 30-point games, Smith dominated during a decisive first-half run and the Hawks won their sixth in the row, beating Miami 105-90 to reclaim a share of the NBA's best record with Phoenix.
"It's just beautiful basketball right now," Smith said.
Johnson scored 30 points on the heels of a 35-point effort against Portland on Monday. Smith was all over the stat sheet: 16 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists, two blocks and two steals.
"We're a tough team to beat when he's playing like that," Johnson said of his teammate. "When he's rebounding, playing defense and diving down in the paint for dunks and layups, it makes the defense collapse. That's leaving guys like me and Mike (Bibby) open for shots."
The Hawks (10-2) remained perfect at home and finally seemed to awaken the city of Atlanta to just how good this team might be. The first sellout of the season, 18,729, turned out at Philips Arena.
Michael Beasley led the Heat with 21 points. Dwyane Wade was held to 15 on 6-of-18 shooting, ending a streak of 23 straight regular-season games with at least 20 points.
"Shooters go through shooting slumps, and that's kind of what I'm in," Wade said. "I got some good shots, shots that I hit in my sleep."
But the Hawks also did a good job of shutting down Miami's star, led by Johnson with plenty of teammates chipping in.
"Wade can get pretty much where he wants to on the floor," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. "You've got to build a wall where all he sees are bodies."
The Hawks took control by outscoring Miami 28-8 over the final 8 minutes of the first half. Johnson got things rolling with a 3-pointer, but Atlanta did most of its damage out in the open court with Smith leading the way.
He had a thunderous dunk off a steal by Jamal Crawford and lob pass from Mike Bibby, and another dunk after Johnson swiped an errant pass by Wade. Finally, with the quarter winding down and the Hawks stretching their lead, Smith bulled his way inside and powered right through Jermaine O'Neal to bank in a shot and draw the foul.
Smith pumped his fist defiantly while O'Neal stared in disbelief, as if wondering what he could do to slow the Hawks' forward. He had 11 points, five rebounds, an assist and a block during the run, pushing Atlanta to a 60-43 halftime lead.
"As long as he keeps playing like that," Johnson said, "we're going to be all right."
Miami cut its deficit to five points late in third quarter, but Atlanta's reserves helped ice the victory early in the fourth. Marvin Williams was the only starter on the floor as Atlanta quickly restored its lead to 91-75, holding the Heat without a field goal until Michael Beasley finally scored with 7:22 remaining. Zaza Pachulia, Joe Smith, Jamal Crawford and Maurice Evans combined with Williams to put the visiting team away.
"We've got the depth we need," Josh Smith said. "We treat each possession as precious because we know we've got something good going here."
This was a rematch of last season's opening-round playoff series, won by the Hawks in seven games. They were swept in the following round by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Hawks don't intend to go out so meekly this season.
"If we stay healthy and do what we're capable of doing, no one is going to sweep us," Smith said. "We'll make a series out of it with any team."
The Heat played without Udonis Haslem, who sat out after falling on his left shoulder in a loss to Oklahoma City the previous night. Quentin Richardson sustained a lower back strain early in the third quarter and didn't return, further cutting into Miami's depth.
NOTES: Haslem wanted to play, but the coaching staff decided to play it safe. The Heat hopes he can return for Friday's game at Toronto. "He's a tough guy," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He'd like to play through it but he jammed it pretty good." ... Johnson had the 61st 30-point game of his career. ... The Hawks improved to 6-0 home. On Friday against Houston, they'll try to improve to 7-0 for the first time since 1997. ... Miami has lost two in a row for the first time this season.
Received 11/18/09 10:29 pm ET