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.
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.
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.
"Game 6 tickers are on sale now," the Hawks public-address announcer said.