Joe Johnson leads Hawks past Wizards, 95-92
WASHINGTON—Joe Johnson scored nine of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, including a go-ahead 3-pointer in the final minute, and the Atlanta Hawks erased a 16-point deficit to beat the Washington Wizards 95-92 on Saturday night.
Josh Smith added 20 points and nine rebounds to help the Hawks win their third consecutive game.
Nene led the Wizards with 21 points and 11 rebounds for his 80th career double-double, and Jordan Crawford scored 20 points.
Washington's John Wall missed a potential tying 3-pointer right before the buzzer, part of a rough night for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft. He shot 1 for 10, scored eight points and had three assists.
For the second game in a row, Wall couldn't make a late shot in a game Washington let get away. The Wizards led by 22 on Thursday night before losing to the Indiana Pacers.
This time, Washington led 73-57 on Crawford's jumper with a little more than 2 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. By the time 1 1/2 minutes were gone in the fourth, Atlanta was within four at 78-74.
When Smith hit a jumper from the top of the key with 3:13 remaining, the score was 90-all. And Johnson's 3-pointer with 46.6 seconds to go made it 93-92, Atlanta's first lead since the first quarter.
Washington's next possession ended with Crawford dribbling off plenty of valuable seconds before missing a long jumper from near the 3-point line with 24.9 seconds left. Atlanta guard Kirk Hinrich grabbed the rebound and the Hawks managed to pass the ball around and avoid getting fouled until Johnson went to the line and made both shots for a three-point lead.
Then came Wall's chance -- and miss.
The Hawks, of course, have something to play for -- and something to prepare for: the postseason. As was noted in marker on the board in the visitors' locker room Saturday, they entered the day sixth in the Eastern Conference at 28-20.
The Wizards, on the other hand, are assured of a spot in the draft lottery, and it's only a matter of exactly how good a spot. They came into the game 11-35, and the only NBA team with a worse record was Charlotte.
One indication of how much games mean right now to these two teams: Before the game, the projector screen in Atlanta's space was showing video of the Wizards playing the Pacers the other night, while the TVs in the Wizards' locker room were showing the Louisville-Florida matchup in the NCAA tournament.
And yet the Wizards came out on court ready to play. The Hawks? Well, they seemed to sort of sleepwalk through the start.
Crawford (11) and Nene (10) combined for 21 of Washington's 23 points in the first quarter, which ended with the teams tied. Crawford scored the Wizards' last nine points of the period, and he and Nene shot 9 for 12 overall, while the rest of the roster went 1 for 13.
Smith led the Hawks with 10 points.
With Nene leading the way -- he had six rebounds in the quarter -- Washington grabbed 14 of the game's first 18 rebounds, perhaps an indication of the Hawks' fatigue on the second night of a three-games-in-three-days stretch.
Washington opened the second quarter with an 8-0 run and led 52-41 at halftime. But once again, the Wizards blew it. And the Hawks continued on their way to the playoffs.
NOTES: Atlanta, which beat New Jersey 93-84 on Friday night, heads home to face the Utah Jazz on Sunday. "I know they're tired ... not only physically, but mentally," Hawks coach Larry Drew said. "But it's kind of the stretch run of the season, and I think it's pretty normal for mental fatigue to settle in. We have to push through it. We can't allow it to overcome us." ... Washington, meanwhile, opened its first triple set, a scheduling quirk the NBA is using to fit in the post-lockout schedule. The Wizards play at the Boston Celtics on Sunday, then are back home against the Detroit Pistons on Monday. ... Wizards F Andray Blatche, frequently booed and ridiculed at home, sat out a third consecutive game. ... Drew said Tracy McGrady would sit out because of the exhausting schedule. But Zaza Pachulia, who was considered a game-time decision, was in the starting lineup. ... At halftime, former players including Tom McMillen, Bobby Dandridge and Stan Love -- father of Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Kevin Love -- were among those honored as part of the second annual renunion of the Washington Bullets & Wizards Alumni Association.