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Question of the Day
ATLANTA (AP) - There’s a tape that Josh Smith’s coach wants him to see.
It shows the Atlanta Hawks forward attacking the basket. And defending. And rebounding. And finding the open man. About the only thing it doesn’t feature is Smith parking himself on the outside, putting up jumpers beyond his range.
Smith is frequently criticized by Atlanta fans for his inconsistent play. He heard nothing but cheers Sunday night, coming up with a huge game that helped the Hawks even the Eastern Conference semifinal against top-seeded Chicago at two games apiece.
Largely ignoring the long jumpers that aren’t his forte, Smith had 23 points, 16 rebounds, eight assists, two blocks and a steal in Atlanta’s 100-88 win over the Bulls.
“We’re always trying to stay in his ear, but obviously when he’s going to the basket and making it easy for himself, we just try to keep encouraging him,” teammate Joe Johnson said. “He was All-Star caliber. When he’s playing like that, it’s almost impossible for a team to beat us.”
“I’m going to bring the tape in and bring him into the office. And he knows,” Drew said. “He has the ability to impact the game on both ends of the floor. When he’s flying around making plays, he’s pretty good.”
The Hawks snapped a nine-game home losing streak in the second round, their misery dating to a May 13, 1996, win against Orlando.
Jeff Teague also played a big role in stopping the skid.
Filling in for injured Kirk Hinrich, the second-year guard again directed the team with the poise of a veteran instead of someone who played infrequently during the regular season and hardly at all in the first round of the playoffs. He scored 12 points and doled out four assists, putting the capper on a late 10-0 run that broke open a game that had been tight and intense all the way.
“He’s playing great,” said Hinrich, who’s watched this entire series in dress suits because of a hamstring injury. “Obviously he has ability. He’s fast. He’s good at finishing up around the rim.”
Driving toward the hoop with Kyle Korver draped all over him, Teague flipped up a shot as he was falling down. It banked in, giving the Hawks a safe lead, 94-84, with 1:26 remaining. The second-year player bounced off the court with a big smile, bumping his teammates on the way to the bench.
Someone held up a sign, “M-V-Teague.”
The actual MVP scored 34 points. But Derrick Rose needed 32 shots to do it, and he wasn’t nearly as effective as he was in scoring a career-best 44 points in Game 3, leading the Bulls to a 99-82 rout that restored Chicago’s home-court advantage.
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