for this game

Johnson, Hawks win second straight

Nov 22, 2008 - 5:19 AM By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- The Atlanta Hawks went out this offseason looking to bolster their perimeter shooting and help Joe Johnson. So far, Marvin Williams and Mike Bibby - members of last year's team - have delivered.

Williams netted 22 points and hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:12 remaining in the fourth quarter while Johnson added 30, including a crucial 3-pointer in the fourth, leading the Hawks to a 88-83 victory over the woeful Charlotte Bobcats on Friday night.

Bibby nailed a trio of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and Maurice Evans hit a crucial bucket down the stretch for the Hawks, who won their second straight after a four-game losing streak to improve to 8-4 on the season.

"It's not always drawn up like that," Johnson said of the win. "But when the fourth quarter comes up, it's the last quarter and you have to bunker down."

Atlanta broke playoff drought that extended into the last millennium last season before exiting after taking the world champion Boston Celtics to seven games in the first round despite lacking a potent offensive threat from the arc.

Down the stretch, teams would converge on Johnson, sending two or three men at Atlanta's All-Star at once as Johnson slashed down the lane.

This year, opponents are learning that they must double- and triple-team Johnson at their own peril.

"This summer we pushed Marvin Williams to extend his shot, and that's why we brought in Flip Murray and Maurice Evans," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "We have five or six guys who can hit the three, so it's hard for a team to focus on Joe Johnson."

On Thursday night, Washington watched as Johnson drained a 3-pointer down the stretch before Johnson drew a double-team and kicked it to Williams for the game winning 3-pointer.

Charlotte didn't learn anything from watching that game tape.

"As long as we're able to keep shooting the ball from the perimeter and teams double Joe, it's pretty much pick your poison," Williams said.

Trailing by two, Johnson drained a 3-pointer to give Atlanta an 81-80 lead with 4:13 remaining before Raymond Felton followed with a 19-footer, posting Charlotte to a one-point lead with 2:34 left.

On the ensuing possession, the Bobcats' defense converged on Johnson as he drove down the paint. Johnson kicked the ball to Evans, who found Williams open in the left corner.

The former North Carolina standout drained the go-ahead a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession to give the Hawks a lead which they wouldn't relinquish.

"I just tell people to be ready when I get into the paint," Johnson said. "I'm going to draw a few guys. I looked out and saw Mo and he swung it to Marvin for a wide-open three."

Williams, who worked hard in the offseason to extend his range, would rather credit the defense with the win.

"I think the defense did it this time as it always does," Williams said. "If we defend, it's tough to beat us."

Evans drained a long jumper with 1:24 remaining, extending the lead to four before Johnson nailed a pair of free throws with 15 seconds remaining, icing Atlanta's win.

"Unfortunately, we couldn't come up with the win tonight," Bobcats rookie guard D.J. Augustin said. "The Hawks made some great shots down the stretch."

Augustin tallied a career-high 26 points and Wallace added 17 for Charlotte, which lost for just the sixth time in 17 meetings with Atlanta.

"You have to give the Hawks a lot of credit tonight," Bobcats coach Larry Brown said. "They shot the ball well. Bibby made (three 3-pointers in a row), and Marvin hit a huge three and Joe Johnson was terrific all night. Even with the Hawks playing well, I was still encouraged that we gave a great effort tonight."

The teams traded the lead 20 times in the game and 13 times in the fourth quarter, including a stretch where Augustin netted two behind the arc sandwiched by 3-pointers by Bibby and Johnson midway through the frame.

Once again, the Hawks had to dig themselves out of a hole to start the game.

Charlotte started strong out of the gate, opening up a 21-8 lead behind 13 points from Wallace. The start also was reminiscent of their Thursday contest against the Wizards, where Washington scored 13 of the game's first 17 points and took a six-point lead into the break.

However, Atlanta righted the ship a little earlier in this one.

Okafor's layup gave the Bobcats a 33-25 advantage with 6:33 remaining in the frame before the Hawks scored nine unanswered points to take a 37-33 lead.

"We can't keep on getting down early like that," Bibby said. "We have to play better in the first quarter and start taking advantage of games. We have to start playing from ahead instead of always playing from behind."