Josh Smith swatted a Derrick Rose shot and went deep into the post on the other side of the floor. As the defense drew near, he kicked it to Joe Johnson, who drained a pivotal 3-pointer. Now that's the type of Atlanta Hawks basketball that we need to see.
Johnson has 15 points on 6-for-8 shooting from the field and Smith netted nine points and grabbed eight boards to lead the Hawks to a 47-46 edge over the Chicago Bulls in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal matchup on Sunday night at Philips Arena.
Derrick Rose has 13 points for the Bulls, who shot 39-percent (16-for-41) in the first 24 minutes.
Atlanta looks much better in this one, playing inside out, getting help on Rose and limiting Chicago's second chance points by doing a decent job on the boards. But they still seem to be that bad Atlanta team when they right on the verge of taking a double-digit lead. You know that team the one that takes and misses bad jumpers, which leads to easy Chicago buckets in transition.
Smith has been very, very good inside, but has been terrible from outside. So bad that he was mocked by Charles Barkley at the break. The TNT commentator came on the air with a "test dumbie" helmet to describe just how wild J-Smoove's long distance offerings are. (Yes, the misspelling of dummy was likely intentional).
The Philips Arena crowd is very much into it as well, groaning no each time Smith lines up for an ill-advised jumper -- responding with a chant of "noooooo," kinda reminiscent of the scene from "Forest Gump" when a collegiate Gump is told to "stop" after making it to the end zone.
Outside of a bad shot here or there, the Hawks are under much more control in this one. The defense is generally good. Rose is getting pestered and banged and Atlanta is playing a solid game. Yes, Jeff Teague missed a few easy runners in the lane and Damien Wilkins blew a dunk to end the half, but the Hawks are in this one and look poised to at least not embarrass themselves on their home floor.
Carlos Boozer has 10 points and Luol Deng added nine for Chicago, which is just 2-for-9 from beyond the arc. The Bulls had 10 3-pointers in Game 3.
Jamal Crawford and Al Horford netted six each for Atlanta, which shot 43-percent (19-for-44) in the first half.