Thursday's National Basketball Association Capsules

Dec 7, 2007 - 3:30 AM By PA SportsTicker

ATLANTA 90, MINNESOTA 89 ------------------------

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Joe Johnson made sure that the Atlanta Hawks did not suffer another embarrassing loss.

Johnson scored 21 points and hit the game-winning jumper at the buzzer as the Hawks squeaked by the Minnesota Timberwolves, 90-89, on Thursday.

Josh Smith scored a game-high 28 points and blocked seven shots, and Marvin Williams scored 20 for Atlanta, which led by 13 at halftime.

The Hawks, however, nearly squandered the lead to the Timberwolves, who have dropped five straight.

It would have been the second straight game the Hawks had blown a strong first half to fall to defeat. On Tuesday, Atlanta led Detroit by nine points at halftime before being outscored, 30-13, in the third quarter, losing a 106-95 decision to the Pistons.

It nearly happened again before Johnson, a 2007 All-Star, saved the day.

With Atlanta trailing, 89-88, with less than three seconds left, Johnson caught an inbounds pass, drove to his right before pulling up from the elbow for a shot that hit all net as the time clock expired.

With the score tied at 85-85 after the Timberwolves' Al Jefferson made a jumper with 59 seconds left, Johnson split a pair of free throws to give the Hawks a one-point lead. However on an inbounds play, Marko Jaric made a layup off a nice pass from rookie Corey Brewer with 20 seconds on the clock to give the Wolves an 87-86 edge.

After a timeout, Smith hit an off-balance bank shot with seven seconds left to again put the Hawks up by one. It looked as if Minnesota would win the game when Jaric drove from the top of the key past Smith for a layup with 2.2 seconds remaining to make it, 89-88.

Atlanta had full control of this contest earlier in the game. The Hawks were cruising against the Timberwolves, opening the contest by scoring 26 of the first 33 points before taking a 53-40 advantage into the intermission.

But the resurgent Wolves outscored Atlanta, 27-8, in the third to take a 67-61 advantage entering the final quarter. The eight points in the third matched a franchise low for the Hawks.

Reserve Craig Smith scored a season-high 20 points and Jaric had 18 for the Timberwolves, who shot 39 percent (37-of-95).

Jefferson scored 17 points and Brewer had six points and a season-high 18 rebounds for Minnesota, which has a league-worst 2-15 record.

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