for this game

Bibby's 23 points lead Hawks past Wizards

Mar 18, 2008 - 3:30 AM By Tim Hipps PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Mike Bibby helped keep the Atlanta Hawks in the playoff hunt.

Bibby scored 23 points, including five 3-pointers, as the Hawks posted a 105-96 victory over the Washington Wizards on Monday.

Joe Johnson had 18 points and 10 assists and Josh Smith added 17 and eight rebounds for Atlanta (29-38), which moved one-half game ahead of the idle New Jersey Nets (28-38) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"I think our chances are good," Bibby said of the Hawks' playoff hopes. "It's in our hands. You never really want to leave it up to anybody else to try to get into the playoffs.

"I've been there before to where I've waited to see how other teams finish to see if you're going to make it or not, so I want to impress upon these guys that it's there for us to take, and we've got to go do it."

The Hawks' eight-season playoff drought is the longest in the NBA.

"We control our own destiny," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "We have a bunch of Eastern Conference teams that we've got to play - teams like Chicago, Indiana, Milwaukee, New Jersey, this team right here - teams that are all bunched together trying to make it happen.

"All I'm telling my guys is to concentrate and take it one game at a time and play it as if it's your last game."

The Hawks, who have also won three straight, evened their four-game season series with the Wizards after Monday's win.

"Obviously, you have your ups and downs in a season, and it's such a long season, but tonight was an important game for us," said Atlanta forward Al Horford, who had 12 points, a game-high 15 rebounds and six assists. "We all came out with that mentality and that focus, and I felt like we played one of our better games.

"It's our second straight victory on the road, and we need this momentum here in March to try to put us in a good playoff position. We just have to keep playing the way we've been playing the last few games. We're playing with a lot of confidence and really defending."

Ahead 54-53 at the break, Bibby and reserve Josh Childress helped give Atlanta some breathing room entering the final period. Bibby scored six in the third and Childress tallied nine for the Hawks, who ended the quarter on a 6-0 spurt to lead, 84-77, to begin the fourth quarter.

"Mike makes a huge difference because he's been in those big types of situations before, and he's made clutch shots," Childress said. "He just brings that swagger that we desperately need."

Bibby connected on 7-of-13 shots from the floor and missed just one of his six shots from the arc, while Childress - who made 4-of-5 shots in the third - also drilled a 3-pointer in the fourth which gave Atlanta an 87-77 advantage just 1:52 into the final period.

"We've just got to play hard as a team," Bibby said. "We've got all the athletic guys in the world and we've got to use it to our ability. We've just got to help each other more defensively."

Childress finished with 16 points for the Hawks, who shot 55 percent (41-of-74), but attributed the win to defense.

"No question, tonight it was all about defense," Childress said. "Although, we do have a ton of scorers, you don't want to put a ton of pressure on your offense coming down the stretch run of games. You want to be able to lock in and make teams play to your level and more times than not, you'll be successful.

"They made some runs and got it to one, but we withstood those. That's really a credit to working together and working hard. When they did cut it close, we got good shots and came down and got stops."

Antawn Jamison had 25 points and nine rebounds and Brendan Haywood added 16 and nine for Washington, which saw its three-game winning streak end.

"We didn't have that sense of urgency," Jamison said. "We came out and just went through the motions. (The Hawks) have been playing great. They did a great job on the road last night, and we knew how much this game meant to them and defending that eighth spot in the Eastern Conference."

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    ATLANTA 105

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    RUWTbot Added 26 roots (Close Finish)

    Hawks 98, Wizards 92  4th - 3:13Mar 17 9:07 PM

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    ATLANTA 84

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    Hawks 54, Wizards 53  HalfMar 17 8:09 PM

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    ATLANTA 29

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