Atlanta, GA – Josh Smith tallied 24 points and pulled down nine rebounds as the Hawks dominated the lowly Bobcats 120-93 at Philips Arena on Wednesday.
"We're playing for something and we have to keep focused," remarked Smith. "We can't have any let downs. With 13 or 14 games left in the season, we've got to finish out strong going into the playoffs."
Jeff Teague and Willie Green scored 17 points apiece, Joe Johnson added 16 and Marvin Williams finished with 14 off the bench for the Hawks, who had lost three of four coming into the contest.
Atlanta now sits just a half-game behind the idle Orlando Magic for the fifth spot in the East and remains 1 1/2 games in back of Indiana, which won on Wednesday, for the third position.
Kemba Walker paced the Charlotte offense with 21 points and Gerald Henderson added 15 for the Bobcats, as they continue to struggle, dropping their ninth straight contest.
"Well it's hard," said Bobcats head coach Paul Silas about his team being the only team in the NBA with a single-digit win total. "You have to look at what you have. I hate losing. I never lost like this before in my life. It is difficult"
Teague and Smith accounted for 19 of the Hawks 27 first quarter points to help the home team take a 27-25 edge after one.
Atlanta scored the first six points of the second quarter and held a 14 point advantage after Smith reeled off a personal 7-0 run to push the margin to 48-34 with just under five minutes left until halftime.
Walker quelled the run with a three-pointer and added a jumper shortly after to cut the difference to 11, but the Hawks outscored the visitors 11-5 down the stretch to take a 61-44 lead into the locker room.
Atlanta quickly pressed the lead above 20 as Kirk Hinrich connected on a three-pointer and Smith finished an alley-oop to make it 66-44 less than two minutes into the third.
The Bobcats got as close as 17 late in the third, but trailed 89-70 heading into the final frame.
The lead reached 30 on Williams' jumper just passed the midway point of the fourth and the Hawks cruised the rest of the way.
Bobcats guard D.J. Augustin left the game in the second quarter and did not return due to right knee tendinitis...The Hawks host Detroit on Friday before heading to Charlotte on Saturday, while the Bobcats close out their four-game road trip in Milwaukee on Friday...Atlanta scored 60 points in the paint, compared to 36 for Charlotte.