for this game

Hawks end three slides with win over Clippers

Jan 7, 2007 - 3:39 AM ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Joe Johnson and the Atlanta Hawks had not won a home game since November. But that was before the obliging Los Angeles Clippers came to town.

Johnson rediscovered his stroke with 27 points and the Hawks took advantage of the uninspired Clippers for an 86-74 victory that snapped a six-game slide at Philips Arena.

"When we were walking in the arena, we were wondering, 'When was the last time we (expletive) won (at home)?'" Hawks guard Speedy Claxton said. "It feels unbelievable. We've got build on this one. We can't stay complacent."

Zaza Pachulia scored a season-high 22 points for Atlanta, which won at home for the first time since November 29 vs. Charlotte. The Hawks also ended a season-high eight-game slide with by far their best defensive effort of the season.

"It feels fantastic," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "I know that the locker room is happy. It's been a struggle the last 10 games."

The Clippers had a lot to do with that. Their offense consisted of Elton Brand and not much else as they shot just 40 percent (28-of-70) from the field and committed 19 turnovers.

"This game right here hurt," Clippers forward Tim Thomas said. "Teams like this, you're supposed to beat. That's a young group of guys out there, pretty much playing off energy. Experience somehow has to kick in at some point to beat teams like this."

Los Angeles fell to 1-3 on its six-game road trip, with the only win over depleted Miami. Overall, the Clippers are 3-13 on the road. Only Memphis - the NBA's worst team - has a worse road record at 2-18.

"We just have to have a sense of urgency on the road and win these ballgames," Brand said. "It's pretty bad for us right now, similar to when we lost six in a row earlier in the season. We're at rock bottom right now."

Atlanta had lost the last six series meetings but did not allow this one to get away. The Hawks got a spark in the fourth quarter from Marvin Williams.

The second-year forward sank two foul shots to stop a run by the Clippers, drained a 3-pointer that beat the shot clock and made a nifty pass to Pachulia for a three-point play and a 77-67 lead with 3:25 left.

"I just shot it (3-pointer)," Williams said. "It turned out to be a big momentum play for us. And we kept the momentum rolling from that point out."

"That was a big play," Hawks forward Josh Childress said.

Johnson was quiet in the fourth quarter but did most of his damage early. Atlanta's leading scorer at nearly 26 points per game, he had eclipsed 20 just once in his last five contests. But he made 8-of-16 shots and 9-of-10 free throws.

"(I was) just taking what the defense gave me," Johnson said. "It's been tough for me. I'm trying to adjust (to being double-teamed). I've definitely been struggling."

"Joe's a young player trying to stay at the top with the elite guys," Woodson said. "He's not used to being double- and triple-teamed. That's part of it. He's in that learning mode right now."

Claxton had nine points and six assists. Williams contributed eight and five rebounds for Atlanta.

"We played hard tonight," Williams said. "To come out with a win is a big feeling."

Brand scored 26 points and Thomas added 14 for the Clippers, who still have stops at Oklahoma City and Minnesota before returning home.

Johnson scored 16 points in the first half, when the Hawks led virtually throughout. They survived a scoreless stretch of nearly five minutes to hold a 42-36 halftime lead over the Clippers, who committed 12 turnovers.

Johnson's three-point play gave Atlanta its largest lead at 60-48 with 4:41 left in the third quarter before LA finally closed to 64-61 on a bucket by Thomas to open the final period.

"We just focused in the fourth quarter," Johnson said. "We didn't want to lose focus in the fourth quarter. Coach just praised us into the fourth quarter."

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