Johnson, Hawks top Nets, end skidJan 31, 2009 - 5:16 AM By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
ATLANTA (Ticker) -- All-Star Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby rediscovered their shots. Not surprisingly, the Atlanta Hawks found their way back into the win column.
Johnson poured in 29 points and Bibby added 20 to help the Hawks snap a three-game losing streak with a convincing 105-88 victory over the New Jersey Nets on Friday night at Philips Arena.
Flip Murray scored 23 points and Marvin Williams recorded a double-double with 16 and 11 rebounds for Atlanta, which snapped a four-game losing streak against New Jersey.
"(Johnson and Bibby) are a big part of what we've done so far this season," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "Joe was the Joe of old tonight. Bibby found his shot. It was fine to see them back in rhythm tonight."
Devin Harris netted 20 points and Vince Carter added 18 for the struggling Nets, who have dropped three straight and eight of their last nine games.
"We let up too much on defense at the end of the game when it counted," said Nets reserve center Josh Boone, who poured in 10 points. "We were playing defense earlier, but for some reason, we stopped. There were a lot of little breakdowns, and when you have a few in succession, it can come back and get you."
Atlanta's tandem of Johnson and Bibby struggled from the field this past week, averaging a combined 20.3 points while shooting just 27 percent (22-for-82) from the field.
Likewise, the Hawks struggled, dropping contests to the Phoenix Suns, Miami Heat and New York Knicks while allowing the Heat and the Detroit Pistons to push them for the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference.
But Bibby and Johnson sizzled Friday night and so did the Hawks.
"It's good to have them back," Williams said. "They haven't been shooting the ball well, but they came back tonight."
Johnson and Bibby shot a combined 56 percent (18-for-32) from the field, drained five 3-pointers and scored 10 of Atlanta's 16 points in a critical 16-6 run that allowed the Hawks to seize control.
"I told Mike that in order for us to succeed as a team, if we don't have a great game, we have to play OK," Johnson said. "He agreed and tonight was an example of that."
Apparently, it was some hard work on the court that paid off for Bibby and the Hawks.
"I came in and shot some extra shots last night," Bibby said. "I felt more confident with my shot tonight. They went in."
A pair of free throws by rookie Ryan Anderson gave New Jersey its last lead, a 65-64 advantage with 5:24 remaining in the third period, before Bibby drained a 3-pointer to give Atlanta the lead for good 16 seconds later.
Johnson scored the next seven points for Atlanta - staking the Hawks to a four-point cushion - before reserve center Zaza Pachulia capped the spurt with a pair of free throws to help Atlanta forge an 80-71 lead with 40 ticks remaining in the third.
The Hawks cruised in the fourth quarter, building a 19-point advantage on a pair of free throws by Murray with 71 seconds remaining.
"They scored some huge points in the last five minutes of the third and the last five minutes of the fourth quarter," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "Their aggressiveness took over in the end with some nice pick-and-roll defenses."
Meanwhile, New Jersey struggled in the second half, connecting on just 10-of-29 shots (35-percent) from the field while allowing the Hawks to connect on 52 percent (16-for-31) of their offerings.
"If you are not playing good defense or you are not helping your teammate, or you are not hitting shots on the offensive end, you probably won't win the game," Frank said. "That's what happened tonight."
Johnson, who scored eight points in the final quarter, now has scored 9,999 career points.
"I wasn't aware (that I was almost at 10,000 points)," Johnson admitted. "If they told me, I would have gotten one (shot) up. Nobody said anything."
Maybe Bibby should have told the three-time All-Star about his impending milestone.
"Yeah, (I knew)," he quipped. "I don't think he wanted it, though."
Bibby and Johnson also excelled on defense, holding Carter and Harris the league's highest scoring backcourt to 38 points on 35-percent (11-for-31) shooting from the field.
Carter had particularly been a thorn in the Hawks' side, entering Friday's contest averaging 25.2 points against Atlanta.
"Me and Mike both had a challenge tonight," Johnson said. "We answered the challenge. That's what we need to do night in and night out."
Josh Smith, who connected on just 2-of-10 free throws in Atlanta's 114-102 loss against the Knicks on Wednesday, tallied just four points on 2-of-6 shooting from the field in this one before he was benched by Woodson in the third quarter.
With Bibby and Johnson clicking, the Hawks didn't need the offensive firepower of Smith to dispatch of the Nets for the first time this season.
"It was a good win tonight," Williams said. "Any win is a good win, but to beat New Jersey is big. Those guys have had our number this year."
NEW JERSEY 88
ATLANTA 105 FINAL
Jan 30 10:01 PM
NEW JERSEY 71
ATLANTA 80 END, 3RD QTR
Jan 30 9:26 PM
NEW JERSEY 53
ATLANTA 55 HALFTIME
Jan 30 8:41 PM
NEW JERSEY 28
ATLANTA 25 END, 1ST QTR
Jan 30 8:07 PM
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