Soon after the Hawks dispatched the Bobcats, the Boston Celtics defeated Portland in overtime to stay at No. 2 in the Eastern Conference by a half game over the Hawks.
More efforts like this from the Hawks, and it might not be long before the Hawks move past the Celtics for good.
The Hawks staggered the Bobcats by shooting over them and running past them for a 103-89 victory at Philips Arena. The Hawks finished their homestand 4-1 and ended Charlotte’s win streak at six.
The Hawks now prepare to face a brutal schedule next week. They play at San Antonio on Monday, at Houston on Wednesday, return home to face Boston on Friday and play at Orlando on Saturday and go into that stretch with confidence.
“We know we can beat any team in the league if we play up to our ability,” said Hawks guard Joe Johnson.
This had to be close to that. It was a stunning display of offense for the Hawks against the league’s best defensive team.
The Hawks shot 51 percent from the field and scored 22 points on fast breaks as they turned 17 Charlotte turnovers into 29 points. The Hawks recorded assists on 32 of their 42 field goals.
Reserve guard Jamal Crawford scored 24 points to lead five Hawks in double figures.
“Everybody had a chance to see who was on tonight,” said Hawks forward Josh Smith, who had 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists and four steals. “Whenever we get a chance to see who has the hot hand, we are a good team.
The Bobcats had won six consecutive at home, including a punishing 104-65 victory over the Heat on Wednesday, but they never led after the first two minutes against the Hawks and dropped to 3-16 on the road.
Other than lulls in the second and fourth quarters, the Hawks held down the Bobcats. Charlotte shot a combined 13-of-43 from the field in the first and third quarters.
“Our defense was good, too,” Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. “We shot it pretty well, but defensively I thought we were solid.”
Charlotte, which lost starting point guard Raymond Felton to an ankle injury in the first quarter, got 25 points from Gerald Wallace and 24 from Stephen Jackson, but the Hawks controlled their teammates.
The Hawks reversed their recent trend of slow starts by making 15 of 20 shots in the first quarter. Smith’s 20-foot jumper started a run of 11 consecutive made baskets for the Hawks during a six-minute stretch of the first quarter.
“We came out with energy and effort,” Johnson said. “That makes up for a lot.”
The Hawks led 31-17 after a quarter. Reserves Crawford, Jeff Teague, Zaza Pachulia, and Mo Evans maintained it, but the Bobcats rallied as the Hawks' starters returned to the game.
Charlotte, aided by defensive lapses by the Hawks, outscored the Hawks 26-16 in the second quarter to get within 47-43 at the half. But the Hawks made 9 of 10 shots during a 23-7 run that put them ahead 70-50.
The Hawks’ lead grew to 22, and Charlotte couldn’t recover despite a late rally.
“That third quarter is as good a third quarter as we played all season,” Woodson said.