Josh Smith Can Take Atlanta Hawks In Title Direction

By John Raffel


Daniel Shirey-USA Today Sports

Atlanta Hawks coach Larry Drew has plenty to smile about when it comes to Josh Smith.

Smith was on top of his game earlier this week in a 126-119 NBA double overtime victory against the Detroit Pistons when he scored 31 points and had 10 rebounds.

“Josh had a huge night, not just on the offensive end, but defensively. He really took the challenge, and I think he guarded every position on the floor,” Drew said. “A couple times we put him up against the point guard. He got matched up against (Rodney) Stuckey some. He was on (Tayshaun) Prince and (Jason) Maxiell. He was on (Andre) Drummond a few times. Josh is a warrior.”

For the season, Smith is averaging a healthy 17 points,  8.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.

The Hawks showed Drew something when they were able to hold back a stunning comeback from the Pistons to post a win.

“This was a big test for us; coming back and playing against a team that has always been a very, very tough matchup for us” Drew said. “They’re big, they’re physical, they have length. This game is about matchups, and we have a hard time matching up with them. I thought we got off to a really good start. This Detroit team is real feisty. They have no quit in them. I really felt, even when we had the big lead, I knew they would make a push, which they did.”

The Hawks showed their ability to kick in that extra tank of gas to pull out a win.

“I’m happy with the way my guys persevered in double overtime. A couple of times, I thought we were dead in the water,” Drew said. “From an execution standpoint, particularly in overtime, we did a pretty good job. It was a really hard-fought win. Physically, we have some guys over in that locker room pretty beat up right now, but you have to expect that when you play teams like Detroit.”

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