The Atlanta Hawks used a matchup against one of the Western Conference's worst teams to snap their longest skid of the season. They hope a game against another struggling club from the West will help them start their first winning streak of the month.The Hawks close a three-game road trip Friday when they meet the Golden State Warriors.
Atlanta (23-15) has stumbled recently after winning nine of 10 from Dec. 12-30. The Hawks dropped five of their next six, including a season-high four straight before snapping that losing streak with a 97-80 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.
The Clippers are in last place in the Pacific Division and the Hawks took advantage of their offensive struggles, holding them to 12 points in the first quarter and 31 in the first half.
Josh Smith scored 26 points and Joe Johnson added 21 for the Hawks, who overcame their own slow start in which they scored 15 points in the first quarter.
"It's huge because it keeps us right where we want to be in the standings," said coach Mike Woodson, whose team is 8-11 on the road.
Atlanta gave up its fewest points since an 85-78 win over Detroit on Dec. 21. The Hawks had allowed 100 points in each of the previous five games, and during the losing streak opponents were averaging 110.8 points and shooting 51.2 percent.
Atlanta's defense could face a tougher challenge against the Warriors (11-29) on Friday. Golden State averages 106.5 points per game, although it also allows a league-high 112.3 points and has the fourth-worst record in the West.
Golden State has dropped six of its last seven, but the six losses were by an average of 7.0 points. The Warriors, who are two games into a seven-game homestand, are coming off a particularly difficult loss after falling 135-133 in triple overtime to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.
Jamal Crawford scored 35 points, but missed the potential game-winner at the end of regulation.
"Tiring to say the least," Crawford said. "At times you can push through but there's moments where you get winded and you have to play smart. You're not thinking you just played 60 minutes. You're like, 'Normally I would make this shot, so I'm going to take it.' But it obviously catches up with you at the end."
Crawford, who is averaging 20.0 points since being acquired from the New York Knicks in November, is averaging 27.8 over the last five games. Golden State especially needs him right now with Marco Belinelli (right ankle), Stephen Jackson (hamstring), Brandon Wright (shoulder) and Monta Ellis (ankle) all out.
The Hawks beat the Warriors 115-99 on Dec. 19, holding Crawford to six points on 3-of-15 shooting - 0-of-4 from 3-point range. They've won five of the last six meetings, including two in a row in Oakland after losing four straight there.