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Johnson leads Hawks past Bobcats

Nov 30, 2006 - 2:51 AM ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Joe Johnson and the Atlanta Hawks knew it was going to be a good night when they looked at the scoreboard 6 1/2 minutes into the game and the Charlotte Bobcats still had not scored.

Johnson scored a season-high 36 points, including 22 in the second quarter, as the Hawks opened a big lead and held on for a 99-90 victory over the Bobcats.

Tyronn Lue scored 25 points and Josh Smith added 10 and 13 rebounds for Atlanta, which had lost two straight and seven of its last eight games.

"Thank goodness for Tyronn Lue," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "Lue's been huge for us. A back-to-back game and he comes out and gives it everything he's got. Lue's an ultimate performer. He continues to work. He takes his job very seriously. The results are right in front of you. I need a few more guys playing like Tyronn Lue."

The Bobcats missed their first 13 shots, falling into an 8-0 hole. They closed to 19-16 after one period before Johnson heated up in the second quarter.

"Atlanta played really well tonight," Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "They grabbed the momentum early. When you dig a hole like that, it can be dangerous. When you have a guy like Joe who makes plays, it's tough to climb that mountain."

Johnson, who has led the Hawks in scoring in every game this season, sank 9-of-10 shots as Atlanta stretched the lead to 56-41 at halftime.

"Joe was on fire," Woodson said. "You try not to extend his minutes, but when someone gets going like that, you milk him and let him shoot his (ammo) out."

"I was just taking what the defense gave me," Johnson said. "I got into a little groove and started feeling it. I wanted to keep going into the halftime break."

Overall, the sixth-year swingman shot 13-of-24 from the field, including 5-of-11 from 3-point range. He has scored at least 35 points in each of his last three games vs. Charlotte.

Zaza Pachulia contributed 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Hawks, who shot 47 percent (37-of-78).

"It was what we needed," Pachulia said. "The main thing is to play good defense and keep teams in the 90s. This is the kind of game we should be playing all year."

Raymond Felton scored 12 of his 21 points in the third quarter, when the Bobcats reduced a 24-point deficit with 7:46 left to 83-72 entering the final period.

Sean May had career highs of 21 points and 17 rebounds for the Bobcats, who were looking for their first back-to-back wins of the season.

"Bernie told me the reason I wasn't playing much was due to my effort," May said. "That's a wake-up call as a player. You never want anyone to question your effort. I'm just trying to go out there now and be aggressive and do whatever I can to help this team win."

Charlotte beat New Jersey, 96-92, on Tuesday but fell to 0-4 following victories this season.

Brevin Knight added 17 points for the Bobcats, who shot just 37 percent (30-of-81). Rookie Adam Morrison was held to six points on 2-of-10 shooting.

"We let the Hawks get so far ahead, but we did everything we could to get it back," Knight said. "They made baskets when they had to make baskets."

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