ATLANTA (AP) - Mike Woodson loves when he can empty the bench and rest his starters for most of the fourth quarter.The New Jersey Nets gave Atlanta's coach the perfect opportunity.
"Our guys came off the bench, and we extended the lead," Woodson said. "The last three games it has been that way. I hope we can keep it up."
Maurice Evans scored 22 points, and Joe Johnson added 21 points with 10 assists to help the Hawks beat New Jersey 130-107 on Sunday for their fourth straight win.
Devin Harris, who started despite a sprained left pinky finger, scored 23 points for the Nets, who allowed a season high in points in their third consecutive loss - dropping the NBA's worst record to 2-22.
"We were hanging tough with a top-four team in the East, pretty much for - what fraction should I say? - five-eighths of the game?" New Jersey center Brook Lopez said. "That's correct, right? So, we were in there. It just kind of fell out from under us offensively and defensively the beginning of the third quarter. I'm sure it's tough writing about us."
Josh Smith and Al Horford each finished with 16 points for Atlanta, which improved to 10-2 at home. Jamal Crawford added 13 points, and Mike Bibby and rookie Jeff Teague each had 12.
Evans made his first start this season after forward Marvin Williams was unable to play because of an upset stomach.
"He's a veteran and has been patiently waiting," Woodson said. "That is key to having a good team. I can't play everybody 30 minutes, so the minutes you get, you have to make the most of them."
New Jersey dropped to 2-4 since general manager Kiki Vandeweghe became interim coach Dec. 1.
The Nets' last lead came on Courtney Lee's 3-pointer with 5:34 left in the second quarter, but Atlanta went on a 19-7 run that ended on Johnson's 6-foot jumper in the first minute of the third to make it 64-50.
Harris smiled when asked if New Jersey "took anything positive from the game," as Vandeweghe often encourages his players.
"We definitely found our pick-and-roll game tonight," Harris said. "That went well. I thought the ball movement was a lot better. Guys were giving up good shots to get great ones. In transition, I thought we, for the most part, pushed up at a good pace."
That was hardly the case on the other end of the floor.
"Defensively we have some things to work on," Harris said. "We left them open, and they made the shots. At a high rate. We live. We learn. We move on."
Randolph Morris' free throw in the final minute gave Atlanta its biggest lead at 26 points.
Lopez finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds for New Jersey, which endured its fourth loss of 19 or more points.
Reserve Terrence Williams added 18 points for the Nets. Harris had 15 points in the second half on 6-for-10 shooting.
"The Hawks are one of the best teams in the East, and they're playing at a very high level," Vandeweghe said. "So we have to make sure we don't hang our heads too low."
Horford believes Atlanta, which hosts Memphis on Wednesday and Utah on Friday, is passing more efficiently on offense than at any time during his first three seasons in the league.
"We were moving the ball well all night, as we have been the last few games especially," he said. "And we got open looks, which we knocked down consistently. It's nice to see every guy in the scoring column."
NOTES: Nets F Chris Douglas-Roberts said an MRI on his left knee showed a mild sprain and that he will try to practice on Monday. The Nets visit Cleveland the following night. ... Trenton Hassell started in Douglas-Roberts' small forward spot and scored 12 points. ... The Hawks improved to 80-63 in the all-time series, including 51-20 at home against New Jersey. ... Evans, Horford and Smith combined for 26 of Atlanta's 51 rebounds.
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