Hawks forward Josh Smith had designs on an early return from the 12-game layoff caused by the high left ankle sprain he suffered Nov. 7 against Toronto.He wanted to play against Washington on Saturday night at Verizon Center but said it was decided that he would wait until Wednesday's home game against Memphis to make his return.
"I'm ready to go right now," Smith said before Saturday's game. "But if the guys that know (the Hawks athletic training staff) think I should wait a couple more games, I have to go with it."
The Hawks are undefeated (4-0) with Smith and .500 without Smith, going 6-6. They've missed his athleticism, energy and shot-blocking prowess on defense during this stretch.
Getting it back, coach Mike Woodson said, will give his team an added dimension come Wednesday.
"We know it's going to be a process, integrating him back into what we're doing," Woodson said. "That's why it makes sense to give him a couple more days to practice before we put him back out there on the floor. We said all along that we weren't going to rush him, especially not with a high ankle sprain. And we've played competitive basketball without him, which is a credit to our other guys."
HAWKS 102, WIZARDS 98: Hawks point guard Mike Bibby has no problem playing the villain away from home. In fact, it's been one of his signature qualities during a colorful NBA career.
So a night after his team wasn't able to hold on to a lead in Toronto, he made sure it did Saturday night by carrying the Hawks early and driving them late. Atlanta they held off a late Washington rally for a 102-98 win at Verizon Center, snapping a five-game road losing streak.
"You've got to have fun with it," Bibby said after leading the Hawks with 21 points, six assists, four rebounds and two steals. "You've got to (go) out there and when you have teams down, you've got to keep them down. We have a tendency to let teams come back, like we did tonight, instead of stomping them when we have them right where we want them."
Al Horford made the game-clinching basket for the Hawks, a layup with 12.4 seconds to play that broke a 98-98 tie. Horford was fouled on the play and sank the free throw to put the Hawks up 101-98, leaving the Wizards with plenty of time to match the Hawks.
But DeShawn Stevenson missed both free throws after being fouled by Bibby with 6.9 seconds to play.