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Bibby, Williams lead as Hawks hold off Timberwolves

Feb 5, 2009 - 5:42 AM MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Without Joe Johnson to lean on at the offensive end, the Atlanta Hawks had to turn to Mike Bibby to avoid a fourth-quarter collapse.

Bibby finished with 24 points and seven assists and Marvin Williams collected 23 points and 10 rebounds as the Hawks snapped a three-game road losing streak with a 94-86 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.

"It was just one of those nights," Minnesota forward Al Jefferson said. "But as bad as we played, we still gave ourselves a chance to win the game. In an 82-game season, you're going to have games like that."

Johnson, who missed the game with the flu, leads Atlanta in scoring with an average of 21.5 points and assists with 6.2.

"Nobody panicked (without Johnson)," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. "Everybody just played the game. Josh (Smith) stepped up and Mike (Bibby) stepped up."

Bibby helped make up for the loss of the Hawks' leader down the stretch, helping hold off a late rally by the Timberwolves with a 3-pointer with 44 seconds remaining that extended the lead to 89-84.

Bibby also hit three free throws in the final 14 seconds to provide the winning margin.

Jefferson collected 18 points and 11 rebounds and Kevin Love added 16 and 14 for the Timberwolves, who have dropped four of five.

"I think that as (Jefferson) goes, so their team goes," Bibby said. "So we tried to keep the ball out of his hands."

"I don't have the heart to watch the film tonight," Kevin McHale said. "Maybe tomorrow. It was a dribble-fest against a zone defense, and that's not good."

Atlanta led by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter before Minnesota used a 17-7 run to pull within 84-81 on Ryan Gomes' free throw with 2:04 remaining.

Jefferson's free throw with 1:04 left made it 86-84, but Bibby took over from there.

"Teams are going to make runs," Woodson said. "I knew they would make a run. They've been playing some good basketball, especially last month."

Williams scored 10 points during an 18-4 run in the second quarter that gave the Hawks a 40-24 lead with 4:52 remaining. Jefferson scored eight points the rest of the way to pull Minnesota within 45-37 at the half.

"(Our defense) was a total team effort," Woodson said. "We came out and established ourselves. We played some zone early in the game and I thought that really affected their ball movement and allowed us to keep the ball out of Jefferson's hands on the low block."

Josh Smith scored 19 points for the Hawks.

"Definitely a big win," Bibby said. "I thought we waited a little too long. We had them down but couldn't put them away."