ATLANTA — The Atlanta Hawks finally won a second-round playoff game at home.
They can thank a guy who frequently gets booed by the home fans, and a young guard who wasn't supposed to be playing much at all.
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 Hawks past the Chicago Bulls 100-88 Sunday night, evening the Eastern Conference semifinals at two games apiece.
The Hawks snapped a nine-game home losing streak in the second round, their misery dating to a May 13, 1996, win against Orlando.
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.
"There are people who don't understand the game, who don't know the game. That doesn't faze me," Smith said. "My teammates matter more than anybody else. They believe in me. They have confidence in my game. When I was in my rut, they told me to stay positive, to stay in the game, just do what I'd been doing all season long. I stayed with it and had the game I had tonight."
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 open a game that had been tight and intense all the way.
"He's playing great," said Hinrich, who's watched this entire series in dress suits because of a hamstring injury. "Obviously he has ability. He's fast. He's good at finishing up around the rim."
Driving toward the hoop with Kyle Korver draped all over him, Teague flipped up a shot as he was falling down. It banked in, giving the Hawks a safe lead, 94-84, with 1:26 remaining. The second-year player bounced off the court with a big smile, bumping his teammates on the way to the bench.
Someone held up a sign, "M-V-Teague."
The actual MVP scored 34 points. But Rose 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, leading the Bulls to a 99-82 rout that restored Chicago's home-court advantage. The top-seeded Bulls can still close out the series simply by winning at home, but the Hawks know they'll get at least one more home game.
After an embarrassing performance two nights earlier, the Hawks changed up their lineup. They had been dominated on the boards in the two previous games, so they went back to a bigger lineup that worked so well against Dwight Howard and Orlando in the opening round.
Atlanta forward Horford had his best game of the series, scoring 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting. Joe Johnson led the Hawks with 24 points, knocking down some early shots to get over a rough showing in Game 3.
CHICAGO (88): Deng 5-14 2-2 13, Boozer 7-10 4-4 18, Noah 2-4 2-4 6, Rose 12-32 9-11 34, Bogans 1-2 0-0 3, Brewer 0-2 0-0 0, Gibson 3-3 3-4 9, Asik 1-2 1-2 3, Watson 0-1 0-0 0, Korver 1-8 0-0 2. Totals 32-78 21-27 88
ATLANTA (100): Smith 8-22 7-9 23, Horford 9-11 2-2 20, Collins 2-2 0-0 4, Teague 6-12 0-0 12, Johnson 9-14 3-3 24, Pachulia 1-3 3-4 5, Crawford 5-11 1-2 12, Williams 0-5 0-0 0, Wilkins 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 40-81 16-20 100
Chicago26 20 23 19—o 88 Atlanta 28 19 20 33—100
3-Point Goals—Chicago 3-16 (Bogans 1-2, Rose 1-3, Deng 1-6, Korver 0-5), Atlanta 4-11 (Johnson 3-5, Crawford 1-5, Smith 0-1). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Chicago 48 (Noah 11), Atlanta 49 (Smith 16). Assists—Chicago 19 (Rose 10), Atlanta 23 (Smith 8). Total Fouls—Chicago 20, Atlanta 19. Technicals—Chicago Coach Thibodeau, Chicago defensive three second 2, Pachulia. A—19,263 (18,729).