Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 1/1/13
NEW ORLEANS -- In his eight-plus seasons in the NBA, Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith has been a solid but overlooked inside presence and scorer. In fact, Smith is the 24th player in league history to have career totals of 10,000 points, 5,000 rebounds, 2,000 assists and 1,000 blocks. And yet, he has never made an appearance in the NBA All-Star game. That may be about to change. Smith added to his resume Tuesday night by scoring 23 points, grabbing 13 rebounds, dishing out seven assists and blocking four shots as Atlanta defeated the New Orleans Hornets 95-86 at the New Orleans Arena. "He was absolutely phenomenal," Hawks coach Larry Drew said. "Every physical play when the ball was involved, he was there and made an impact on both ends. I normally take him out at the end of the third quarter, but I was going to ride him. I told him just to give me the fist if he got tired." Smith never got weary, scoring 10 points in a 28-14 third quarter surge during which the Hawks made 12-of-19 shots (63.2 percent) to turn a 50-44 halftime deficit into a 72-64 lead. Despite his lack of All-Star love, Smith is the first player in NBA history with career averages of 15.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.0 steals per game. Smith, who entered the game with a sore right hip flexor, grabbed his 5,000th career rebound during the game -- an event he called "a great honor." "It lets me know I'm getting older, but I still have a lot more in my tank to go," Smith said. "It's just a blessing to be able to do this as long as I'm doing it. It's dedicated to the hard work and effort that I put into the offseason as well as during the regular season." The Hawks' front line dominated the Hornets. Besides Smith, Al Horford added 20 points and backup center Zaza Pachulia had 12 points and 10 rebounds in just 20 minutes. The three big men combined for 55 points, 26 rebounds, 10 assists, three steals and five blocked shots. "Their bigs did a very good job of dominating the game," Hornets coach Monty Williams said. "Pachulia comes off the bench and has a double-double. We just didn't put up much of a fight. Our big just had a lack of execution." The Hawks led 84-82 with 4:14 left, but Kyle Korver started an 11-4 surge with a 3-pointer from the right baseline. Smith added an alley-oop dunk on the Hawks' next possession. Horford then hit an inside basket and a dunk on consecutive possessions as the Hawks (20-10) pulled away for their fifth victory in six games. The Hornets (7-24) got 23 points from Ryan Anderson, but they lost their seventh consecutive home game. Eric Gordon came off the bench in his second game of the season and scored 11 points, but he struggled with his shooting, going just 5-of-17 from the floor. "I missed some shots that I should have made," Gordon said. "In the second half, they did a good job of keeping me from getting to the goal." NOTES: The Hawks have the best record in the NBA on the back end of back-to-back games, extending their record to 7-1. "It's a good thing to have, because we have a lot coming up in the next few weeks," Horford said. "It's good that we're getting these wins." ... Williams said he wants Vasquez to keep his Player of the Week honors for the Western Conference in perspective. Vasquez averaged 21.0 points, 10.0 assists and 6.3 rebounds per game. "You try to treat it like a win," Williams said. "You enjoy it for a few hours and then you've got to move on."... Vasquez recorded his eighth double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 assists and came up one rebound short (nine) of a triple-double. ... The Hawks were finishing up a stretch of five games in seven nights. "We're a little tired, but this is the NBA," Atlanta coach Larry Drew said. "This is just where you have to just roll your sleeves up and gut it out. Every team's going through it."... Drew said he was looking for his team to attack the basket in transition. "We've gotten in trouble a little bit where we do have an advantage in transition and we run straight to the 3-point line instead of really attacking the basket," Drew said.
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