Mike Woodson couldn't remember another homestand in his 26 years as an NBA player and coach as long as the eight-game stretch his Atlanta Hawks just completed. The Hawks went 7-1, with their only loss to Boston.

"It's huge," Woodson said. "I've never been part of a schedule that had eight straight home games. It can either help you or hurt you, and in our case it helped."

Joe Johnson scored 25 points and the Hawks beat the visiting Denver Nuggets, 109-91, last night to close out the homestand with a long-awaited milestone.

The Hawks (20-10) reached 20 wins before New Year's Day for the first time since the 1987-88 season, when second-year center Al Horford was 1.

"It feels great, but we've got to stay focused and take care of business," Horford said. "I think we've got all the right tools to be a winning team."

In other games last night:

* At East Rutherford, N.J., rookie Derrick Rose had 21 points and a season-high 13 assists, and the Chicago Bulls beat the Nets, 100-87.

* At Oklahoma City, Shaquille O'Neal had 28 points and 12 rebounds to help the Phoenix Suns overcome the loss of Steve Nash (back spasms) and beat the Thunder, 110-102.

* At Minneapolis, Al Jefferson scored a season-high 38 points, including nine in overtime, and grabbed 16 rebounds to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 108-98 victory over Memphis.

* At Houston, Antawn Jamison scored a season-high 30 points, Andray Blatche added 16 points and eight rebounds and the Washington Wizards snapped a five-game road losing streak with an 89-87 win over the Rockets.

* At Auburn Hills, Mich., Rodney Stuckey led a balanced attack with 19 points and the Detroit Pistons won their fourth straight with an 88-82 win over the Orlando Magic, who had their seven-game winning streak snapped.

Noteworthy

* Clippers swingman Ricky Davis was suspended five games for violating terms of the NBA's drug program. Davis' suspension will begin with the next game for which he is eligible and physically able to play. Davis hasn't played since Nov. 22 due to a sore left knee. *