ATLANTA -- Josh Smith answered his critics with a huge game -- 23 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists -- and fill-in Jeff Teague came up with the Derrick Rose-like plays down the stretch to lead the host Hawks past the Chicago Bulls last night, 100-88. Their Eastern Conference semifinal series is tied at two games apiece.
Smith is frequently criticized by Atlanta fans for his inconsistent play. He heard nothing but cheers in this one, staying away from the outside jumpers, dominating on the inside and finding the open man with crisp passes.
Teague has been an even bigger surprise filling in for injured Kirk Hinrich, playing with the poise of a veteran instead of someone who played infrequently during the regular season and first round of the playoffs. He scored 12 points and doled out four assists, putting the capper on a late 10-0 run that broke it open.
League MVP Derrick Rose scored 34 points, but he needed 32 shots to do it, and he wasn't nearly as effective as he was in scoring a career-best 44 points in Game 3.