Teamwork, Josh Smith's Clutch Play Boost Atlanta Hawks to NBA's Best Record

John Boller@jboll0327Correspondent INovember 21, 2009

Make it seven wins in a row for the Atlanta Hawks after Friday night’s squeaker past the Houston Rockets at Philips Arena, pushing them to the NBA's best record at 11-2 overall.

The 105-103 win wouldn’t have been possible without the left hand of Josh Smith, though.

Following two free throws from the Rockets’ Carl Landry to tie the game at 103 with just five seconds left in the game, head coach Mike Woodson called a 20-second timeout to draw up a play.

It looked like Woodson had called a play that put the ball in the hands of the Hawks’ go-to-guy, Joe Johnson. However, Houston was ready for the ball to go to Johnson and quickly doubled him.

The double on Johnson left Mike Bibby open for a pretty good look just inside the three-point line at the top of the key. His shot didn’t fall, but it went straight up off the rim, leaving a great opportunity for a tip-in on an Atlanta rebound.

Luckily for the Hawks, there weren’t many red jerseys in position for a rebound while Al Horford and Smith were right there.

It’d be smith who would reach up with that golden left hand of his and finish off coach Woodson’s play. He left just one second on the clock for Houston to try and pull off a miracle shot. But Shane Battier’s full-court heave was intercepted by Johnson and the arena erupted right on cue.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

I felt lucky to be there and to have seen such a great team muscle out a win. I was in the last row directly behind the hoop by the Headlines Bar, but the electricity of the moment permeated the whole building.

At first, I was jealous of all those who had been at Philips Arena on Wednesday to watch the Hawks dismantle the Miami Heat. But, after being there last night, I knew that I had just witnessed Atlanta’s best game of the season.

I have never heard a Hawks crowd like the one I heard last night. The fans were up on their feet and cheering the team on after every basket, every blocked shot, every rebound, and every three-pointer nailed. It was a beautiful sight—not just for a basketball fan, but for anyone that loves sports.

It was a total team effort. The Hawks had four players in double-figures, with Marvin Williams leading the team in scoring for the first time this season. His play was simply brilliant.

He also had the game-high with 29 points and led the Hawks with nine rebounds—five offensive and four defensive—and shot 13-of-19 from the field, including 3-of-5 from downtown.

Jamal Crawford led the Hawks with four treys to finish with 21 points in 31 minutes of action. He also had three steals.

Atlanta continues to show it is no fluke and that the Eastern Conference has more than just three championship-caliber teams.

Up next for Atlanta is a trip to New Orleans to play a Hornets team that has won two in a row but is 4-6 over its last 10 and still without All-Star point guard Chris Paul.

Following the trip to New Orleans, the Hawks are off until a Thanksgiving Day showdown against the Orlando Magic in Atlanta. The Hawks currently have a one-game lead on the Magic (10-3) in the Eastern Conference’s Southeast Division.

Nothing like watching a Southeast rivalry while eating your turkey.

slash iconYour sports. Delivered.

Enjoy our content? Join our newsletter to get the latest in sports news delivered straight to your inbox!