Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 1/16/13
ATLANTA -- This was a tale of two homecomings, but with only one story of redemption. On the night of Joe Johnson's ballyhooed return to Atlanta, the Hawks stole the spotlight by racing out to a big lead and cruising to a 109-95 win over the Brooklyn Nets at Philips Arena. Even with Josh Smith serving a one-game suspension on Wednesday night (conduct detrimental to the team), the Hawks had little trouble finding a rhythm against the Nets -- boasting six players with double-digit scoring and shooting nearly 60 percent from the field (45 of 78). Jeff Teague took honors in scoring and assists, rolling for 28 and 11 against the Nets. However, center Zaza Pachulia (13 points, 11 rebounds) garnered the most attention in the postgame media scrum, finishing only two assists shy of his first career triple-double. "We've been around long enough to know when we play this way, good things happen," said Pachulia, who collected eight of the Hawks' 33 assists. "We needed this (victory) desperately." Officially for the Hawks (22-16), this was a chance to earn back-to-back home wins. Unofficially, this was an opportunity to show Johnson -- an Atlanta staple of seven seasons (2005-12) -- how much they have evolved, up-tempo wise, since he joined the Nets last summer via trade. Johnson (15 points) connected on just four of 15 shots, the result of contested jumpers and plannedunplanned traps from the Hawks' spirited defense. The random traps of Johnson "made us aggressive. It made us active," said Hawks head coach Larry Drew, while also acknowledging the mental grind his team has endured in recent weeks. That stress may have reached a tipping point just two nights ago, when Atlanta scored a season-low 58 points and incurred a 39-point road drubbing to the Derrick Rose-less Bulls. In the lackluster loss, only reserve Mike Scott scored in double figures. "All teams go through these (slumps)," said Drew. "You just have weather the storm." With the NFL's Falcons on the brink of hosting their first conference title game Sunday, the Hawks might have caught a break, attention-wise, with Monday's meltdown. On Wednesday, the boisterous Philips crowd of 15,029 didn't seem worried by the prospect of another subpar outing. And the Hawks rewarded that faith (or short-term memory loss) by pouncing on the Nets from the outset. Atlanta bolted to a seven-point advantage after the first quarter (27-20), thanks to 11-of-19 shooting and aggressive fast breaks from Teague and Devin Harris (18 points, five assists). The second quarter was an extension of the first, with the Hawks forging a 7-0 spurt in the first 77 seconds and then maintaining leads of 14 and 16 points for a vast majority of the half. The quarter's best sequence: For starters, Harris collected a long defensive rebound, speed-dribbled to half-court and then fired a hard bounce pass to Teague, who glided for a layup -- in traffic. On the next possession, big man Ivan Johnson (eight points, three boards) threw down a thunderous dunk. As a capper, Harris then went coast-to-coast, off a long rebound, before converting an and-one layup (missed free throw). The Hawks' third quarter was awash in fast breaks and mounting leads, as well. For one spurt, Pachulia grabbed a rebound and laced a 50-foot outlet pass to Teague, who slammed the ball without incident. A few minutes later, Kyle Korver (11 points) nailed his lone three-pointer of the night. Soon after that, Teague hit Al Horford (17 points, 13 boards) for an alley-oop dunk -- amid a sea of Nets onlookers -- that vaulted Atlanta's lead to a game-high 23 points. All this occurred without Josh Smith, even though he was sorely missed by his coach. "Tonight, we were good, but with Josh ... we're better!" said Drew. The Hawks are certainly a different team without Joe Johnson, a supreme talent but methodical scorer. The new Net was understandably disappointed with his club's play on Wednesday. "(The loss) kind of hurts, because it seems like from the start we just weren't really into it. We knew (the Hawks) weren't going to let me play. We knew they were going to trap every time I caught the ball," said Johnson, who has now scored in double digits for 20 straight games. "We just didn't seem to make the right reads." Johnson encountered a smattering of boos whenever receiving the ball in half-court sets. He even elicited the occasional fan chant of "We don't miss you" during free throws. But as part of that, there was also a palpable feeling that both clubs had moved on from the summertime trade, without much ill will. That notion, however, may be tested on Friday when the Nets (9-2 in their last 11 games) and Hawks complete a rare home-and-home between non-divisional opponents in Brooklyn.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

DeMar DeRozan: It will be ‘pretty tough’ for me to leave Raptors

Super Bowl referee says Cotchery play could have been a catch

The NBA is one step closer to putting ads on jerseys

Archie Manning defends Cam Newton over press conference

Dwight Howard: ‘I have not asked the Rockets to trade me’

Nazem Kadri fined $5,000 for throat-slashing gesture

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Hassan Whiteside suspended one game for elbowing Boban Marjanovic

Hornets’ Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has torn labrum

Report: Antonio Tarver suspended six months, fined $50,000 for positive test

Texans owner wants team to draft a top quarterback

Subban undergoes larynx surgery, out at least eight weeks

Report: Raiders staying in Oakland for 2016 season

Chris Harris: Von Miller should get paid more than JJ Watt

4 likeliest Dwight Howard trade scenarios

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Penn State the latest to offer generic football jerseys for sale

Gary Bettman praises the NHL’s new website and app (which are currently awful)

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

NBA to weigh adding advertisements to jerseys

ESPN, Stephen A. Smith and Little League International sued by parents of Jackie Robinson West

Kobe Bryant shoots down notion he wants All-Star MVP record

Justin Tuck will sign one-day contract to retire with Giants

Ronda Rousey returns to training

Von Miller likely to get franchise tag from Broncos

Barry J. Sanders transferring to Oklahoma State

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker