The Hawks scored eight of the last 10 points in the first quarter to take a 20-17 lead through the first 12 minutes at Philips Arena.
Marvin Williams and Zaza Pachulia had four each for Atlanta, which shot an ugly 33-percent (7-for-21) in the frame.
Atlanta opened the game by missing its first five shots, including four by Smith. Denver opened up an 8-2 lead. Then the Hawks went inside and contained the damage.
Except for the guy who is supposed to get most of his work done in the post. Smith kept trying to hit ill-advised jumpers that make every a Hawks fan groan -- of course he missed. It got so bad that even Dominique Wilkins was calling for the Atlanta forward to take a seat. He was pulled by coach Larry Drew seconds later midway through the frame after connecting on 1-of-8 in the quarter. He returned later in the frame.
Neither team has really been able to establish much of a flow in the first, which was highlighted by ugly shots and a whole lot of rebounding.
Kenyon Martin has seven points for Denver, which connected on just 35-percent (7-for-20) from the field in the frame.