OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Atlanta coach Larry Drew has been harping on his players to play better defense in order to get the transition game going.
After nearly four months, the message seems to be sinking in.
Josh Smith scored 26 points, Al Horford had 22 points and 12 rebounds and the Hawks smothered the Golden State Warriors with a dominant effort on both ends of the court in a 95-79 win Friday night.
It's the second time in seven games that Atlanta has held the opposition to 79 points. Both times, the Hawks won.
``The minute we get the basketball, we have to race the lanes and get down the floor,' Drew said. ``We've got enough offense in the half-court but what we've been lacking is stops so that we can run. Tonight we did that.'
Joe Johnson added 12 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Hawks (35-23), who snapped a three-game losing streak and won for the first time since the All-Star break.
Atlanta was mired in one of its biggest slumps of the season and had fallen eight games behind Miami in the Southeast Division. Drew criticized his team's shot selection during the slump but it wasn't an issue against Golden State.
Neither was the defense.
The Hawks shot nearly 48 percent from the floor (40 of 84), outrebounded the Warriors 49-34 and led by as much as 29 while winning for the first time since Feb. 14.
``It's a little frustrating to me because I wish that we played like this all the time,' said Horford, who was 10 of 14 from the floor. ``I hope there's no looking back now.'
David Lee had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Monta Ellis scored 16 for Golden State (26-31).
Three days after scoring just 33 points in the second half against Boston, Golden State shot poorly, committed 16 turnovers and looked out of sync all night in its final home game before a seven-game road trip.
``We were a flat team,' coach Keith Smart said. ``We didn't have the kind of energy to play against a team that was going to be energetic, lost a couple of games and was desperate. We just have to find our rhythm coming back from the break.'
Atlanta built a 29-point lead in the third quarter then cruised the rest of the way while handing Golden State its second straight lopsided loss at home. Fans poured out of the arena with more than 8 minutes left and the Warriors trailing 85-62.
The Hawks remained 1 1/2 games back of Orlando for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Magic beat Oklahoma City 111-88 on Friday night.
The Warriors still cling to their own postseason hopes but they definitely didn't play like it.
The Hawks nearly turned the game into a blowout before halftime, building a 19-point lead early in the second quarter. But Ellis, held to 15 points in a 115-93 loss to Boston on Tuesday, kept Golden State afloat with 10 straight points, including a pair of free throws that helped the Warriors close to 40-31.
Not much went right for Golden State after that.
``The first half we were just about as good as we've been all season,' Drew said. ``We were relentless defensively. We got out and got some easy transition baskets. We controlled the tempo, we got stops and we limited them in the half-court.'
Johnson scored on an up-and-under move, then fed Marvin Williams down low for an easy bucket. He also picked the ball from Stephen Curry in the final seconds and raced downcourt for a layup just before the buzzer to give the Hawks a 55-35 halftime lead.
Things were going so well for Atlanta that newcomer Kirk Hinrich made a 3-pointer in the second quarter less than five seconds after checking into his first game for the Hawks. Hinrich arrived as part of a five-player trade with Washington on Wednesday.
NOTES: The Warriors re-signed F Jeff Adrien to a 10-day contract. Adrien, who appeared in 15 games for Golden State earlier this season, had been in the NBA Development League. The move comes after the Warriors traded F Brandan Wright and C Dan Gadzuric to New Jersey earlier this week for Troy Murphy and a second-round pick. ... The Hawks have won three straight overall against Golden State. ... The Warriors honored members of their 1974-75 NBA championship team during halftime.
The Associated Press News Service
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