The Philadelphia 76ers seized the momentum against a tiring Atlanta Hawks team. Not to fear, Josh Smith was here. Smith drained a big 3-pointer to give Atlanta a five-point lead and blocked Andres Nocioni's late bid to tie it in the game's final seconds as the Hawks survived with a 104-101 win over the Sixers on Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Joe Johnson had 22 points and Al Horford added 20 for Atlanta, which improved to 2-0 to start a season for just the second time in two years.
"We're pretty good on the road," Johnson told the Hawks TV broadcast afterward. "We knew they were going to make a run at their home and we withstood it and pulled out a win tonight."
Atlanta sure as heck didn't make this one look easy.
The Hawks lead by double digits with just over four minutes left before the Sixers whittled it down to two on Nocioni's putback dunk with 1:07 left. But Atlanta took the ball down the court and found Smith on the perimeter. With the shot clock winding down to four, Hawks fans throughout Atlanta groaned as the Atlanta power forward launched a shot from behind the arc over a hand of a Philadelphia defender.
Somehow, the shot found net.
"That's not something I want to get him into the habit of," said Hawks coach Larry Drew, who also acknowledge that the shot clock was winding down. "We were fortunate it went in."
Philadelphia nailed four free throws sandwiched around a free throw by Johnson to cut the lead to 103-101 with 5.7 left. The Sixers fouled Johnson with 4.5 left and the Atlanta star had a chance to put the game away, but he made just one of them, setting up Philadelphia for the final shot.
Nocioni threw it up from behind the arc with .9 seconds left, but Smith blocked the ball as the horn sounded. The Hawks escaped with a win.
"We played the way we wanted to play in stretches, but we got a little lackadaisical and we didn't get back on defense," Drew said. "We didn't want to do that against this team. They made some plays at the end. Sometimes it's not going to work out the way we want it to work out, but the main thing is we got a win."
The block capped a sensational night for Smith, who finished with 12 points, nine boards and six blocks despite missing half the third and a good portion of the fourth quarter after tweaking an ankle.
Jamal Crawford had 19 points off of the bench for the Hawks, who won this one despite turning the ball over 20 times.