Hawks storm back to down Wizards, snap four-game skidNov 20, 2008 - 4:25 AM By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Marvin Williams and Joe Johnson helped the Atlanta Hawks put an end to a four game skid.
Williams scored 21 points and Johnson added 19 as the Hawks nailed a trio of crucial 3-pointers down the stretch and scored the final eight points of the game to defeat the woeful Washington Wizards, 91-87, at Philips Arena on Wednesday night.
Mike Bibby poured in 15 of his 25 points in the third quarter and Maurice Evans nailed a crucial 3-pointer in the game's final minutes for the Hawks, who began the season by winning their first six games.
"I thought our guys really stepped up," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "We were down four with a minute and something to go and we just willed ourselves to win the game. Joe, Marvin and Mo hit big 3-pointers that really gave us a nice little cushion."
Johnson struggled for most of the second-half, going just 1-for-11 from the field entering into the game's final minutes.
His team also struggled from behind the 3-point line, misfiring on 2-of-9 shots from behind the arc entering the last two minutes.
However, the Hawks delivered in crunch time.
Atlanta trailed, 83-80, after Andray Blatche's bucket before Evans drained the first of three shots from behind the arc for Atlanta to tie the game with 1:53 left.
DeShawn Stevenson then scored the next two baskets to re-establish a four-point lead for Washington.
But the 26-year-old Stevenson prematurely celebrated after the last bucket??- a fade-away jumper from inside the right arc - taunting the Hawks with his trademark hand gesture before trading bumps with teammate Caron Butler.
"I actually thought we had the game with a minute left," Stevenson admitted.
Johnson, Williams and the Hawks had the last laugh.
Williams found Johnson behind the 3-point arc, and the Johnson found the bottom of the net with 56 seconds remaining to cut the lead to 87-86.
"Game on the line, I love those situations," said Johnson, who didn't even give a moment's thought to his poor second half. "That's how I play the game. I'll take the big shot every night."
Stevenson missed a 3-pointer on the other end of the floor. Johnson had the opportunity to shoot the next 3-pointer for the Hawks but passed the ball instead to Williams, who found landed a 3-pointer above the right arc to give the Hawks an 89-87 lead.
"I knew a lot of attention was drawn to me," Johnson said. "I just kicked it to Marvin and he knocked down a big shot."
Williams had no doubt that the ball was going through the net.
"I felt it when I was shooting it," Williams said. "Joe made a great pass and I was able to knock it down."
Washington had two opportunities to tie the game on the ensuing possession but came up empty.?? Ronald Murray grabbed the rebound and connected on two free throws to put away the game.
"We just didn't close out this game," Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. "Give lots of credit to them for making some big-time shots."
The once-soaring Hawks hobbled into this one at less than full strength. Second-year center Al Horford was a late scratch with a sprained left ankle and forward Josh Smith is at least a week away from returning with a high left ankle sprain.
Washington also was shorthanded, continuing to play without guard Gilbert Arenas and center Brendan Haywood.
But it was the Hawks that put aside the disappointment of their last-second loss against Boston and the nightmare three-game slide that followed, chipping away at a seven-point, third-quarter lead on the hot hand of Bibby, who shot 7-for-8 from the field in the frame.
They were also able to rediscover their long lost defense along the way.
Atlanta, which allowed an average of 112.5 points during its four-game losing streak, reverted to the club that allowed an average of 89.5 points while starting 6-0.
"That was the difference," Woodson said. "I thought our defense was back to where it was the first six games of the season, and we rebounded the basketball."
Zaza Pachulia teamed with Williams to reestablish Atlanta's missing low-post presence, each matching career highs with 18 and 14 rebounds, respectively.
"Somebody tell Zaza we're not friends until Friday," Williams joked. "I had a chance at a career high in rebounds and he had 18."
The Wizards opened up the contest by scoring 13 of the game's first 17 points before Atlanta outscored Washington by a 10-3 margin to cut the deficit to 16-14 on Marvin Williams' putback layup with 6:26 remaining in the first.
Washington was poised to take an identical nine-point lead into the break, but Murray hit long 3-pointer to send the game to the half at 50-44.
Butler scored 32 points and Antawn Jamison added 18 and 11 rebounds for the Wizards, who fell to 1-8.
"We really needed this win tonight, because we're already playing with a sense of urgency early in the season," Jamison said. "This can become dangerous if we don't figure out a way to close out games."
ATLANTA 91 FINAL
Nov 19 9:23 PM
ATLANTA 70 END, 3RD QTR
Nov 19 8:45 PM
ATLANTA 44 HALFTIME
Nov 19 8:03 PM
ATLANTA 28 END, 1ST QTR
Nov 19 7:33 PM
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