NBA: Hawks 111, Bobcats 81
Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 12, 2012
ATLANTA — Josh Smith scored 30 points, Joe Johnson added 23 and the Atlanta Hawks won their first game without All-Star center Al Horford, routing the Charlotte Bobcats 111-81 on Thursday night.
The Hawks learned earlier in the day that Horford, a leader on and off the court, will miss at least three months after tearing the pectoral muscle in his left shoulder going for a rebound the previous night at Indiana.
Knowing they’ll be expected to take on an even larger load with Horford sidelined, Smith and Johnson came through big time against the hapless Bobcats, who lost their fifth in a row and dropped to 2-9. The Hawks dominated on the boards, outrebounding Charlotte 55-30.
Byron Mullens led the Bobcats with 21 points in his first career start.
Charlotte never led in the game, and the Hawks steadily pulled away from a 19-all tie late in the first quarter. Jeff Teague hit a 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds left in the opening half, sending Atlanta to the locker room with a 57-47 edge.
The Bobcats never seriously threatened the rest of the way. After Gerald Henderson hit a jumper that made it 59-51, the Hawks led by double figures the rest of the way.
Even without Horford, the Hawks dominated the boards to improve to 8-4. Most telling was the commanding 20-4 edge at the offensive end, setting up Atlanta for 22 second-chance points. The Bobcats had just six.
Playing without his so-called “‘bash brother,” Smith still crashed the boards for a game-high 13 rebounds. Zaza Pachulia also had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Everyone, in fact, got in on the act. Vladimir Radmanovic had eight boards, Joe Johnson and reserve Ivan Johnson chipped in with seven apiece.
Nothing went right for the Bobcats, who didn’t have anyone with more than six rebounds and shot just 1 of 8 from 3-point range. The Hawks had their biggest lead at the end, after both teams had cleared their benched. Thirty-seven-year-old Jerry Stackhouse even had rim-hanging ham in final minute, leading to chants of “Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!” from what remained of the sparse crowd generously listed at 10,597.
The Hawks had three other players in double figures: Jeff Teague with 16 points, Ivan Johnson with 12 and Willie Green with 11. By comparison, Henderson, with 16, was the only other player with at least 10 points for Charlotte.
NOTES: The Hawks played again without Tracy McGrady (back spasms) and Marvin Williams (sprained left ankle). … Corey Maggette (left hamstring strain) didn’t travel with the Hornets. … Ivan Johnson got his money’s worth during less than 21 minutes on the court. He took nine shots from the field, got to the foul line for five attempts, worked hard on the boards and fouled out late in the game. … Joe Johnson led the Hawks with eight assists.