TORONTO – Joe Johnson scored a season-high 34 points and Josh Smith had a career-best 29 to lead the Eastern Conference-leading Atlanta Hawks to a 111-102 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Friday night.

Atlanta (4-1) moved three games over .500 for the first time in 71/2 years. The Hawks have had seven consecutive losing seasons and never recovered after starting last season 0-9.

But Johnson is off to one of the best starts in the NBA right now. He also had eight rebounds, five assists and finished 12-for-20 from the field.

When he was double-teamed in the second half he passed the ball to Smith, who scored 20 points after halftime.

Smith also had seven rebounds and five assists. His previous career high was 28 points last April 15 at Milwaukee.

Atlanta shot 50 percent and outrebounded Toronto 49-40.

Chris Bosh had 19 points and 17 rebounds for the Raptors, who dropped to 2-3.

After Toronto’s Fred Jones cut the lead to two with a layup with 7:45 left, Johnson and Smith sparked a 17-6 run. Johnson started it with two free throws and Smith followed with a 3-pointer.

After Johnson assisted on another 3-pointer by Smith, Tyronn Lue made a 22-foot jumper to give Atlanta 102-89 lead with 2:37 left.

Johnson and Smith each had nine points as Atlanta outscored Toronto 28-15 in the first quarter. The Hawks shot 57 percent in the period, compared to 26 percent for the Raptors.

Toronto’s Andrea Bargnani – the No. 1 pick in the draft – had just four points and two rebounds in nine minutes. The Italian forward didn’t play in the fourth quarter.

Notes: Toronto coach Sam Mitchell isn’t surprised by Atlanta’s improvement this season. “There’s a lot of parity in the East and West,” he said. “The teams that are so called at the bottom have players that are getting experience.” … Johnson has played in 363 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in the NBA behind the Raptors’ Morris Peterson 365.

AP-ES-11-10-06 2141EST



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