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Johnson's 32 points helps Hawks end road skid vs. Wizards

Dec 22, 2007 - 5:03 AM By Tim Hipps PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Joe Johnson scored 16 of his team-high 32 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Atlanta Hawks to a 97-92 victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday night.

The victory was the Hawks' season-high fourth in a row and their first in Washington in nearly four years.

Marvin Williams added 22 points for the Hawks, who won at the Verizon Center for the first time since December 30, 2003.

"Back in the day, everybody could see that we wouldn't have made those stops that we needed," Williams said of the Hawks, who outrebounded the Wizards, 52-40, and blocked five shots. "That just shows our maturity and shows that we've gotten tougher."

"We didn't want to give them any second-chance points and we wanted to outrebound them," added rookie Al Horford, who had 13 points and seven rebounds. "We've just got to keep playing the way we're playing."

Johnson, who also had eight assists and five rebounds, made two free throws that gave Atlanta a 93-90 lead with 16 seconds remaining.

"He does what a player of his caliber is supposed to do," Horford said. "He took over the game, really made some big plays for us, and just really came through."

Rookie Nick Young, who scored six of Washington's 12 points in the final 3:19, had a 3-pointer rim in and out with 11 seconds left. - "We were so close," said Young, who had 14 points and three rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench. "The little things let the game slip away. They had some big rebounds down the stretch."

Johnson's layup on the run allowed the Hawks to snap an 84-84 tie with 1:36 left.

"We're figuring a way how to get it done down the stretch," Hawks forward Josh Smith said. "We're playing together, communicating, and trying to limit teams to one shot. We were crashing the boards, getting extra putbacks, getting steals, getting into passing lanes and trying to get easy points for ourselves. The main thing we've been doing down the stretch is playing good defense."

After DeShawn Stevenson scored for Washington, Josh Smith made a 3-pointer from the left wing that gave Atlanta an 89-86 lead with 1:02 left.

"I didn't see anybody to swing it to and I'm not scared of taking shots," said Smith, who received the assist from Johnson. "I let the game come to me today and, when Joe hit me with a pass, I was able to knock the shot down."

"We don't rely on him to make threes, but that is one that he stepped up and made," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said.

Johnson said he did not hesitate to swing the ball to Smith.

"I was just trying to be aggressive and make a play, and they collapsed on me," Johnson said. "He was the first guy I saw and he was wide open, so I had to kick it to him. I believe he can make it, and he did."

Smith praised Johnson for having that kind of confidence.

"Ah, man, he was great - just knocking down big shots when we needed him to make them," Smith said. "They were doubling him and he was passing the ball up, finding extra guys, just giving his teammates confidence out there. He has trust in everybody. He trusted me to knock the shot down, and I did it.

"Joe played the whole second half, which kind of takes a toll on your body, and sometimes you have to give shots up and have trust in your teammates. I was able to lift him up."

Johnson made four free throws and rookie Mario West added two in the final 16 seconds to secure the victory.

Johnson scored 10 straight points for the Hawks early in the fourth quarter, capped by a 3-pointer from deep in the left corner that gave Atlanta a 79-76 lead with 5:28 remaining.

"I just wanted to be aggressive and put the pressure on the defense by making plays for my teammates," Johnson said.

Williams added two free throws and the Hawks led 81-76 with 5:07 left.

Antawn Jamison led the Wizards with 30 points on 13-of-19 shooting and nine rebounds.

"With Gilbert (Arenas) and Antonio (Daniels) out (with injuries), teams are going to key on Caron (Butler) and myself," Jamison said. "Caron and I need to realize that we don't need to press and that our teammates will help us out."

Stevenson added 18 points for Washington, which had won 11 of the past 13 meetings between the teams, including seven straight at the Verizon Center.

This marks the first time since January 11, 1998 that the Wizards (13-12) and Hawks (14-12) met this late in the season with both teams above the .500 mark.

"It's a rough league and things can change in a matter of minutes," Johnson said. "We've just got to stay humble and work hard."

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