The shorthanded Atlanta Hawks did everything they possibly could to erase an 18-point deficit in the fourth quarter. But by the end of it, the result was much of the same that it was the first time the Hawks and Phoenix Suns faced each other: another Atlanta loss.
Josh Smith had 26 points and Jamal Crawford added 19 in Atlanta's 105-97 loss to Phoenix on Wednesday night at the U.S. Airways Center.
Channing Frye had 20 and Jared Dudley 17 for the Suns, who handed the Hawks their third straight loss.
Atlanta struggled defensively in the first half, losing the battle of the boards 23-13 in the first 24 minutes of the basketball game while the Suns connected on 55-percent of their shots from the field. The result was another double-digit deficit for the Hawks to overcome in the second half.
Atlanta almost did that behind a sensational night from Smith, who posted 11 points in the third quarter alone as the Hawks cut the deficit to 80-71. The Hawks outscored the Suns, 21-12 to start the final quarter and tie the game on Joe Johnson's 3-pointer with 5:00 left in the ballgame.
But some guy named Steve Nash found that extra gear that all superstars have. He and Channing Frye helped the Suns to a 13-5 run to put the game away.
The Hawks, who were playing on the back-end of a back-to-back down three players simply had no chance.
Atlanta consummated a trade with the Washington Wizards, shipping Mike Bibby, Maurice Evans and Jordan Crawford and a draft pick to the District of Columbia in exchange for Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong. With those three out, you'd think that coach Larry Drew would have relied more deeply on Atlanta's bench.
Instead, Drew shortened his bench and used just eight players. Perhaps it's because folks like Zaza Pachulia, Josh Powell and Etan Thomas did not match up well with a faster Suns team, but you'd think you'd want to spell some of the guys in the lineup for some period of time.
Jeff Teague had 10 points in a rare start at the point and Damien Wilkins added nine in some extended minutes for the Hawks, who have dropped five of their last six contests.