"We knew we had to get this win tonight," Johnson said.
The Hawks got their first win of the month to lift their record to 22-12. The Nets dropped to 3-32 and are 1-17 on the road. Combined with Orlando's home loss to Toronto on Wednesday, the Hawks are 1-1/2 games behind the Southeast Division-leading Magic.
A day after a players-only meeting to address the team's recent shortcomings, the Hawks showed the form that allowed them to win seven and six games in a row in November and December, respectively, and nothing at all like the team that sleepwalked through its Tuesday loss at Miami.
"I think that guys just really needed to talk a little bit," said guard Jamal Crawford, who led all scorers and tied his season-high with 29 points. "You know what you need to do, but it's sometimes good to put it on the table, and that's what we did."
As they have done when they've been at their best, the Hawks challenged shots, won loose balls and rebounded, leading to repeated fast breaks. They scored 27 fast-break points against New Jersey, three more than they had scored in their past three games combined. They moved the ball, with 33 assists on their 43 baskets, the second-most assists they've had in a game this season.
Against a pliant Nets defense, the Hawks repeatedly went to the basket, leading to 34 points in the paint and also a number of kickouts for 3-pointers. All 13 of the Hawks' 3-pointers -- 10 of which came in the first half, tying a club record -- came on assists.
Said forward Josh Smith, "As long as we keep doing that and keep playing together, the sky's the limit for this team."
As has also often been the case in Hawks wins, Smith was at the heart of it, going for 11 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Smith had one block, but altered many more shots.
Smith said he wanted to "just go out there and go all out on both ends of the court. One-man wrecking crew."