"That has to be big for our team and our confidence," Smith said. "We have to figure out a way to keep it up without him until he gets back."
Smith had 26 points and a career-high 17 rebounds in Atlanta's 104-92 victory over Philadelphia on Tuesday night, leading the Hawks to their fourth straight victory and ending the 76ers' seven-game winning streak.
"I thought we came ready to play," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "Defensively, we rebounded the ball, and offensively, we were making shots. We were sharing the ball. That's huge for our team."
Andre Iguodala led the Sixers with 18 points. Rodney Carney, Kyle Korver and former local high school star Louis Williams combined for 31 points in reserve roles, but starters Samuel Dalembert, Steven Hunter and Willie Green had a total of just 15.
Philadelphia's two top reserves, Korver and Joe Smith, were hardly factors. Joe Smith went 0-of-5 from the field and was scoreless with six rebounds. Korver, who made his only 3-point attempt, entered with a 44.3 percent average beyond the arc to rank No. 6 in the NBA.
"It came down to Atlanta beating us to a lot of those loose balls," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "They were quicker than we were, and our defense was not sharp. They outrebounded us as well. I think Atlanta did a lot of things tonight that we had been doing right."
Josh Smith, coming off a career-high 32 points in a win last Saturday against Minnesota, gave the Hawks their biggest lead at 79-50 on a layup.
"I was trying to get easy points off the offensive rebounds," Smith said. "I was trying to get aggressive and get a couple of tip-ins."
At 26-39 and with 17 games remaining, the Hawks matched their victory total of last season. Surprisingly, Atlanta hasn't lost since Johnson suffered a right leg contusion in a March 5 defeat at Miami.
That loss was the Hawks' sixth straight, eighth in nine games and 11th in 15.
"We win four games and it's like, 'Oh, was that the problem?' " Childress said. "I think we just caught a nice little stretch of games and our confidence ... we're just playing carefree. With the group it's more, 'Let's play and have fun.' And when you're having fun, playing carefree, your game goes up to another level."
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Philadelphia had become just the second team in NBA history to win seven straight after falling 20 or more games under .500. Golden State had an eight-game winning streak after a 23-45 start in 2004-05.
"Our defense was very poor, and we gave up a lot of offensive rebounds," Korver said. "We didn't play very smart basketball, and that got us crushed on the boards. When you put those two things together, it doesn't matter who you play in the NBA, you're going to get beat."
Hawks reserve F Solomon Jones was ejected for nearly tackling Iguodala with a hard foul late in the third. ... Philadelphia dropped to 20-21 since the Dec. 19 trade of Allen Iverson. ... The Sixers never led after Josh Smith's layup made it 4-2. ... Atlanta outscored Philadelphia 22-8 on second-chance points.
DeMar DeRozan, arguably the top shooting guard who could hit the free-agent market, is focused on re-signing with the Raptors, a source said.
Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving has accepted an invitation to play for Team USA at the Summer Games, filling out the 12-man roster for Rio de Janeiro.
Heat president Pat Riley said re-signing Whiteside will be the team's No. 1 priority, with a max contract projected to be $94.8 million over four years.