for this game

Hawks overcome large deficit to down Timberwolves

Nov 25, 2007 - 5:46 AM MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- After not tasting any kind of success on the road, the Atlanta Hawks can't lose away from home lately.

Joe Johnson had 25 points as the Hawks used a pair of second-half runs to deny the Minnesota Timberwolves their second victory of the season in a 94-87 victory on Saturday.

Atlanta ended the NBA's longest active road losing streak at 17 games with its 82-79 win over the Miami Heat on Wednesday. Its comeback on Saturday erased Minnesota's 21-point first-half advantage - the Timberwolves' third-largest lead blown in franchise history.

"In the first half, we couldn't make a shot and we couldn't stop them, and that's a bad combination," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. "I thought that in the second half we flipped the script, we defended and we made shots off of our defense, and that's what got us back in the game."

After Al Jefferson hit two free throws near the end of the first half to increase Minnesota's biggest lead of the contest to 63-42, Johnson hit a last-second 3-pointer in second quarter to cut the Hawks' halftime deficit to 63-45.

"We came out really flat," Atlanta center Al Horford said. "Give them credit for coming out ready to play. We knew we couldn't tie the game with one play, but that shot at the end of the first half was big."

"63 points in the first half is the most points we've given up all season," Woodson said. "You're not going to beat any team in this league, I don't care who you're playing, when you do that. At halftime, I told them, 'If we're going to win this game, we have to defend and take care of the ball.'"

Atlanta chipped away at the lead throughout the third period, due in large part to a defense that caused six turnovers in the first six minutes of the quarter compared to four in the entire first half.

Marvin Williams and Josh Childress scored 12 of the team's 19 points to close the gap to 75-64 at the end of the third.

However, it was the fourth quarter in which Atlanta made its biggest move, turning around an 11-point deficit at the beginning of the period into an 87-78 advantage with just over four minutes remaining.

"I thought the third and fourth quarters were as good as we've played all year in terms of defense and rebounding," Woodson said. "We really got after them, made some things happen, and that generated some offense for us. That's something that we didn't do in the first half."

Johnson, Josh Smith and Tyronn Lue combined for the final 14 points of the 23-3 run which allowed Atlanta to take control.

Al Jefferson finished with 23 points and 16 rebounds and Marko Jaric added 20 and six assists for the Timberwolves, who fell to 1-10 despite a 63-point first half.

In Denver on Friday, Minnesota set a season best in first half scoring (56) and a season worst in second-half scoring (37). On Saturday, the Timberwolves beat both marks, scoring 63 in the first half and 24 in the second.

"The same thing happened in the second half that has happened in 10 of our 11 games," Minnesota coach Randy Wittman said. "We put ourselves in a position to win and then played scared. I'm at a loss to explain why. It's not youth, it's not inexperience; we've done it 10 times."

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