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Josh Smith leads Hawks past Kings 106-99

POSTED: March 11, 2012 11:44 p.m.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Josh Smith scored 19 of his 28 points in the second half for the Atlanta Hawks, who defeated the Sacramento Kings for the eighth straight time with a 106-99 victory Sunday night.

Atlanta took the lead for good with a strong third quarter and never trailed again in avoiding a third straight loss. It's the only meeting between the teams this season.

DeMarcus Cousins fouled out late in the game but not before tying a season high with 28 and adding 12 rebounds for the Kings, who had their modest two-game winning streak snapped. John Salmons had 14 points, while both Marcus Thornton and Jimmer Fredette had 12.

Joe Johnson scored 21 points and Jeff Teague had 16 points and seven assists for the Hawks. Kirk Hinrich and Marvin Williams both had 12 points and Zaza Pachulia added 10 points and 13 rebounds before fouling out in the fourth quarter.

Trailing by 12 with just over five minutes to play, the Kings ran off seven straight points, pulling to within 94-89 on a 3 by Thornton. But several costly turnovers and several missed 3s in the final two minutes prevented the Kings from getting any closer than five points.

The Hawks are on a season-high six-game road trip that began with a win over Indiana. However, Atlanta suffered a three-point loss in Miami and fell to Detroit 86-85 on Friday night. The road trip concludes with consecutive games, Tuesday against Denver and Wednesday vs. the Los Angeles Clippers.

Smith's shooting ignited the Hawks in the third quarter when they outscored the Kings 29-22 in taking an 80-74 lead into the fourth. Smith scored 12 points, while both Johnson and Teague had seven. Cousins had nine points for Sacramento.

In the fourth quarter, it was Smith again hitting open shots. He followed a 3-pointer from Hinrich with a pair of jumpers and a free throw, putting the Hawks in front 88-76 with just over nine minutes left.

Smith, who is averaging just over 25 points in six March games, got hot to start the third quarter, making his first six shots, including five from the perimeter. But the Kings still kept pace with the Hawks for much of the quarter, thanks to the scoring of Cousins and Isaiah Thomas, who made consecutive 3-pointers after going scoreless in the first half.

The Hawks had no answer for Cousins in the opening half when the Kings led 52-51. He scored from inside and out in getting 18 points. Pachulia had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Hawks.

NOTES: Fredette hit a long 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the first quarter to give Sacramento a 24-23 lead. ... Johnson, who returned to the lineup Friday after missing four straight games with tendinitis in his left knee, missed all three first-quarter shots and didn't score. ... Atlanta coach Larry Drew was a member of the Kings in 1985-86, the franchise's first year in Sacramento. ... Kings reserve forward J.J. Hickson missed his fifth straight game with a hip pointer.



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