Josh Smith showed no ill effects from his brief layoff, racking up 17 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists to lead the way in the Atlanta Hawks' 107-94 triumph over the Phoenix Suns at Philips Arena.
Smith had sat out the Hawks' 96-92 home win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday due to a sprained left knee, but returned strong in topping four other teammates who scored in double figures and help Atlanta avenge a five- point loss to the Suns in Phoenix back on Mar. 1.
Al Horford and Kyle Korver each chipped in 16 points to the victory, with Horford pulling down 11 rebounds as well, while Devin Harris ended with 15 points and DeShawn Stevenson had 12 for Atlanta.
"It was a collective effort and a collective win tonight," Smith remarked. It was definitely a big victory for us. Hopefully we can go up to Brooklyn [on Sunday] and continue the streak, keep playing up tempo, keep playing unselfish and keep playing together."
Goran Dragic topped Phoenix with 21 points and eight assists, with Jermaine O'Neal netting 18 points and Markieff Morris compiling 15 points and 11 rebounds.
The Suns have now dropped three straight, all of which have come by 13 points or more, following Friday's ugly performance in which they committed 24 turnovers that led to 21 Atlanta points and managed a 3-of-19 success rate on 3-pointers.
"Twenty-four turnovers was pretty much the ball game for us," said Suns head coach Lindsey Hunter. "Some of our shots were like turnovers, cause they were pretty bad. We talked about it, we'll continue to work and continue to try to get our guys to learn how to play winning basketball."
Phoenix did hang tough for most of the opening half and trailed just 39-37 after Jared Dudley fed O'Neal for a dunk nearing the midway mark of the second quarter. Atlanta countered with an 11-2 burst, however, that was capped by a Korver trey that staked the Hawks to an 11-point advantage four minutes prior to intermission.
Atlanta shot nearly 54 percent over the course of the first two quarters to take a 57-46 lead into the break, with both Harris (15 points) and Smith (13) going 6-of-8 from the floor.
Phoenix closed within five points on two occasions in the third quarter, most recently at 68-63 after Marcus Morris put back a Dragic miss with 6:17 left in the frame. It was a seven-point game three minutes later, before Atlanta embarked on an 11-2 tear to go up by an 84-68 score early in the fourth quarter.
The Hawks maintained a double-digit differential the rest of the way.
Atlanta put together an early 7-0 run to take a 16-10 lead eight minutes into the contest, and went into the second quarter up 27-23 behind Smith's 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting.
Jeff Teague also returned for the Hawks after sitting out Wednesday's win with an ankle sprain, but went just 2-of-10 from the field for eight points ... Korver ended 4-of-5 from 3-point range and had a trey for the 58th straight game, the NBA's longest streak since Peja Stojakovic went 62 in a row from Jan. 16-Dec. 10, 2008 ... Phoenix had prevailed in eight of its 10 most recent visits to Philips Arena prior to the loss.