Hawks dominate Nets, ending winning streak at seven
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ATLANTA -- Jeff Teague had just rejected the shot, nearly throwing it into the stands, when he began glaring in Joe Johnson's direction, almost as if to remind him this no longer was his house. So what if he also had been called for a foul.
Only hours earlier, Johnson sure seemed like the mayor of this place, waltzing slowly through the bowels of Philips Arena, flanked by television cameras following his every move. The Nets' go-to guy was back where he spent seven seasons. He seemingly greeted everyone, too, as he walked down the hallway to the visitors' locker room, smiling the entire time.
But Johnson wasn't beaming much once the game tipped off. The Hawks made sure of that, even with leading scorer Josh Smith suspended for this one because of conduct detrimental to the team.
On a night the Nets badly needed an offensive infusion, Atlanta essentially rendered Johnson a nonfactor. He made only four of 15 field-goal attempts and had 15 points, not nearly enough as the Nets were pummeled by the Hawks, 109-95, Wednesday night, snapping their seven-game winning streak.
"I think they were fired up for a few reasons,'' Johnson said. "Me coming back and them having one of their key guys out, knowing other guys had to step up and maybe they were trying to prove something. They definitely came out and played great."
The Nets (23-16) barely showed up, looking like a tired team after arriving in the wee hours on the heels of Tuesday night's win over Toronto in Brooklyn. But they let the undermanned Hawks (22-16), who had dropped six of their last seven, basically push them around.
The Nets never led and found themselves down by 26 points midway through the third quarter. They were a step slow, allowed Atlanta to be the aggressor and didn't play with much fight until it was much too late.
They shaved the Hawks' 88-69 advantage heading into the fourth down to 12, but never got any closer than that on the way dropping to 9-2 under interim coach P.J. Carlesimo.
"It was an especially tough back-to-back," Carlesimo said. "It was a combination of playing some guys some big minutes [Tuesday] night. Yes, it was a little bit of a longer trip. We got in very late, but that's not being fair to [the Hawks]. Was it a factor? Of course it was a factor.
"We knew that coming in. We have to be able to overcome that and we didn't."
They couldn't overcome the Hawks' double-teams of Johnson, either. Johnson, whose first field goal came with 5:04 left in the first half, was swarmed nearly every time he had the ball and the Nets never solved that defensive puzzle.
"It's not really frustrating to get trapped because I expected that," Johnson said. "The frustrating part was that guys weren't getting in the right spots to make them pay. If we had made them pay a few times, then maybe they wouldn't have doubled so much. It just didn't seem like we knew where to be."
Brook Lopez led the Nets with 22 points and nine rebounds, but Deron Williams mustered only 12 points, shooting a brutal 5-for-18. Teague had a career-high 28 points and 11 assists for the Hawks, who'll be in Brooklyn for a rematch Friday.
"They just had a different gear than we did tonight," Williams said. "They just wanted the game more. It was pretty evident from the jump when we just really couldn't keep up.''