The Atlanta Hawks are returning from an impressive road trip, and playing back home might only increase their confidence.
The Hawks go for their fourth straight win overall and seventh in a row at home Thursday night when they meet the Memphis Grizzlies.
Atlanta closed an impressive January with a 4-1 road swing – its best five-game trip since December 1968. The Hawks (16-6) won the final three games, including the last two by an average of 22.5 points after shooting 51.3 percent in a 100-77 win at Toronto on Tuesday.
Joe Johnson scored 30 points in a little over 30 minutes before sitting out the fourth quarter. His 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting in the first half lifted Atlanta to a 56-37 lead at the break.
“That’s the type of player he is,” said Tracy McGrady, who added 15 points. “Once he gets that feeling, he can run off 10 or 12 points in a hurry.”
It was Johnson’s second 30-point performance in three games. The Hawks are 11-0 when he scores more than 20.
Johnson has keyed Atlanta winning nine of 11 overall and has been particularly good at home in that span, averaging 24.8 points with 26 assists and six turnovers.
The Hawks are opening a four-game homestand, having not played at Philips Arena since Jan. 21 against Cleveland.
“It’s been the longest road trip I personally have ever been on,” forward Marvin Williams said. “It was tough, but we took care of business out here.”
Atlanta is 8-1 at home, its only defeat coming in triple-overtime against Miami on Jan. 5. Since then, the Hawks have won six in a row at home, holding opponents to 88.8 points per game while averaging 103.2.
They should feel good about their chances of extending that streak Thursday. The Grizzlies have lost four in a row and nine of 10 in this series, including five straight in Atlanta. Johnson scored 26 in each of his last two home games versus Memphis.
The Grizzlies (11-10) are hoping they’ve turned things around after snapping a four-game losing streak with a 100-97 overtime win over Denver on Tuesday.
The team held a players-only meeting following an 83-73 loss to San Antonio the previous night after trailing by as many as 22 points. Memphis responded Tuesday by rally from 12 down in the fourth quarter, with O.J. Mayo scoring 15 of his 18 points in the game’s final 12 minutes.
Leading scorer Rudy Gay bounced back after being held to one point and missing all seven field-goal attempts against the Spurs. He finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds against the Nuggets for his third double-double of the season.
“It was important for us to just come out and give effort,” coach Lionel Hollins said. “We just kept battling back until we got a win. That’s what we have to do.”
Hollins’ team, though, continues to struggle offensively. Memphis failed to score more than 91 points in regulation for the sixth straight game and is shooting 39.1 percent from the field during that span.
The Grizzlies are the Western Conference’s lowest-scoring road team at 85.8 per game and has lost three straight away from home. They’re opening a tough three-game trip which includes visits to Oklahoma City on Friday and Boston on Sunday.