If it's an opportunity to prove themselves that Hawks reserve big men Solomon Jones and Randolph Morris were looking for, that's exactly what they'll get over the next two to four weeks.Because that's the amount of time Hawks starting power forward Josh Smith is expected to miss with a high left ankle sprain suffered with 51 seconds to play in the first quarter of Friday's win over Toronto at Philips Arena.
With the win, the Hawks moved to 4-0 on the season, their best start since 1997. But the mood in the locker room after the game was tempered by the reality that they could play as many as the next 15 games without their top defensive player and second-leading scorer.
Smith left the building on crutches, and Hawks coach Mike Woodson said he wouldn't know until Saturday just how severe the injury really is. He knows he won't have Smith for Sunday's game in Oklahoma City and the rest of this week's four-game road trip, which makes pit spots in Chicago, Boston and New Jersey.
"Josh is a quick healer," Woodson said. "So I'm hopeful that we'll get him back sooner rather than later. But we'll just have to see."
If the Hawks are going to keep this current roll going without Smith, they'll need more of what they got from both Jones and Morris Friday night. They played a huge role with Smith out and Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia in foul trouble for much of the night.
Jones finished with six points, nine rebounds and three blocks in 25 minutes while Morris added six points, a rebound and block in 13 minutes.
"We need those guys and we really need everybody," said Hawks captain Joe Johnson. "Those two guys in particular, they haven't played. So they came in cold and did that. Solo came in and really gave us a great effort. And that's all you can ask for."
HAWKS 110, RAPTORS 92: The Hawks made sure they took care of the Raptors for Smith, piling up 34 assists, making 60 percent (12-for-20) of their 3-pointers and five players scoring in double figures.
The Hawks' rallied the troops impressively against the Raptors, waxing yet another more highly-regarded opponent with an equal mix of production from their starters and the bench.
They led by as many as 19 points in the first half and by 27 in the second, leaving the Raptors two steps behind on both ends of the floor throughout the game.
The Hawks got season scoring highs from Mike Bibby (19), Marvin Williams (14), Flip Murray (16) and Mo Evans (15) in addition to 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists from All-Star guard and leading scorer Joe Johnson.
Bibby, who also finished with a season-high 12 assists, had all his point by halftime. He blew the game open with a monster second-quarter run where he nailed four of five shots from beyond the 3-point line.
"It was one of those nights where pretty much everything was clicking," Johnson said. "Mike had the hot hand and it was like he couldn't miss, so I was trying to find him every chance I could. And he opened up the floor so everybody else could create and everybody got involved."