85 - 90 Final
  for this game

Johnson returns to help Hawks nip Bobcats

Dec 18, 2010 - 4:07 AM Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Joe Johnson returned to lead a balanced Hawks attack with 16 points, eight assists and five rebounds, as Atlanta topped the Charlotte Bobcats, 90-85, at Philips Arena.

Johnson had not played since November 28 because of right elbow surgery, and was initially supposed to miss 4-to-6 weeks. Johnson said playing one-on-one with Hawks assistant coach Nick Van Exel contributed to his early return.

"I think he did a great job in banging me, just trying to see if I was game- ready in the past few days," Johnson said. "Felt pretty good."

Josh Smith finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Hawks, who were coming off double-digit losses at Boston and Detroit. Al Horford and Marvin Williams each contributed 16 points in the victory.

Boris Diaw and D.J. Augustin each scored 22 for the Bobcats, while Dominic McGuire pulled down a career-high 17 rebounds. Charlotte lost for the fourth time in five games, but head coach Larry Brown said he wasn't disappointed in his team's effort.

"Oh yeah, I can live with that," Brown said. "You know me, I would never have a problem when we play that hard."

Brown also admitted that the Bobcats didn't shoot well, making 38 percent from the field, and allowed Williams to get free late in the game.

Williams made the difference for Atlanta, particularly with two key buckets in response to Charlotte points. After Diaw made a free throw to get Charlotte within three, Williams countered with a jumper to make it an 82-77 game. Stephen Jackson followed with two foul shots at the other end, but Williams sank a layup with 1:15 to go, restoring Atlanta's five-point edge.

After each team missed a three, the Bobcats were forced to foul. Johnson sank two, and Williams made 4-of-4 in the final 16.8 seconds to secure the win.

The Hawks held a 25-20 lead after the first quarter, then took a 46-39 advantage to the break. Johnson opened the third quarter with a three-pointer, and Atlanta led throughout the third before taking a 68-58 edge to the fourth.

Diaw scored the first two baskets of the final quarter to cut into the Hawks' lead, and it was back-and-forth the rest of the way.

Game Notes

The Hawks have won seven in a row at home vs. Charlotte...The teams combined to shoot 8-for-39 from three-point range...Atlanta recorded 27 fastbreak points...The Hawks' Jamal Crawford missed a second consecutive game because of a sore back.