Joe Johnson gave Atlanta Hawks fans a night to remember. No, not because of his black headband or because the first time they tried to play this game against the Milwaukee Bucks there was six inches of snow and a bunch of ice on the ground here in Atlanta. He just put on a shooting performance for the ages.
Johnson posted 36 points before resting for most of the second half to lead the Hawks to a 110-85 annihilation of the Bucks on Tuesday night at Philips Arena.
Josh Smith finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds and Marvin Williams posted 16 for Atlanta, which shot 63-percent (46-for-73) from the field.
"It makes it a whole lot easier (when Johnson's scoring like that)," Josh Smith told the team's TV broadcast afterward. "Now he becomes a decoy. Guys are able to play off him well and guys were making shots tonight."
To think Johnson entered this one in a bit of tailspin, averaging just over 14 points in each of his last 15 games. In this one, he simply couldn't miss, at one point connecting on six straight 3-pointers as the Hawks opened up the early lead.
Johnson, who was wearing a headband after getting stitched up due to some minor skin procedure, finished 13-for-19 from the field, 6-for-9 from the line and 4-for-4 from the free throw line. However, because of the blowout and an impending game against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night here, Johnson was removed from the game late in the third quarter -- one point shy of his season high of 37 and six away from his career-high of 42.
Atlanta's All-Star forward and his headband should return tomorrow.
"We're definitely gonna keep the headband," Hawks coach Larry Drew joked afterward. "He seemed to have some bounce in that step. He was just really aggressive coming through screens. He had a solid, solid game on both ends of the court."
The Hawks actually looked sluggish early on as the Bucks opened up an 11-10 lead midway through the first. But that didn't last very long. Atlanta scored the last 11 points of the first quarter, quickly extended the bulge to 20 in the second and never really looked back.
I joked before the game that the Bucks looked like a deer caught in the middle of the road staring at the glare of oncoming headlights when they set a franchise low of 56 points against the Boston Celtics on Sunday. On Tuesday, the Hawks preyed upon some deer roadkill.
Atlanta held a 41-31 edge on a Milwaukee team that shot just 42-percent from the field (36-for-86). They swatted eight shots and dished 31 assists on 46 Hawks field goals.
"Tonight was just our night," Drew said. "We were good on both ends of the floor."
Al Horford returned to action after missing Saturday night's game against the Portland Trail Blazers with a sprained left ankle and finished with 15 points. Josh Powell also returned to the court after spending missing Saturday night's game due to legal issues. He did not score in six minutes.
Andrew Bogut posted 21 points and 13 boards and Carlos Delfino added 13 for Milwaukee, which dropped its second straight game.