Hawks keep Wizards, Wall at bay
Joe Johnson scored 14 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and
the Atlanta Hawks remained unbeaten, holding off Washington 99-95
in their home opener Saturday night.
After opening with wins at Memphis and Philadelphia, the Hawks
gave the home fans their first look at a team that features largely
the same roster as last year’s playoff team but a new motion
offense under rookie coach Larry Drew.
The game was tight all the way, but Johnson finally put away the
Wizards after struggling the first three quarters. His biggest shot
came with less than 3 1/2 minutes remaining, when he stepped back
behind the arc to hit a 3-pointer over Al Thornton right along the
sideline for an 89-84 lead.
Rookie John Wall led the Wizards with 28 points, and Thornton
added 24. But the Wizards still lost their 10th in a row to the
Hawks, who have been sort of a forgotten team in the Southeast
Division with all the hype surrounding Miami’s Big Three and
defending champion Orlando.
For now, it’s Atlanta on top.
Al Horford chipped in with 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Josh
Smith also had 10 boards to go along with 12 points. The Hawks
enjoyed a 43-34 rebounding advantage, leading to a 17-10 edge in
Having won at Philadelphia the night before, the Hawks got off
to a ragged start. With Thornton scoring 10 points in the opening
period, the Wizards made 12 of 20 shots and ripped off a 21-5 run
to take a 27-18 lead into the second quarter.
Drew turned to his backups, sitting Horford and Marvin Williams
the entire period and keeping Smith and Mike Bibby on the bench
until the 5:40 mark. Jamal Crawford scored eight points in the
period, and Jeff Teague and Zaza Pachulia had four apiece. Pachulia
and Josh Powell each grabbed three rebounds.
The Hawks chipped away at the Washington lead, finally grabbing
their first lead since the opening minutes when Smith hit a couple
of free throws with 2:47 remaining in the half. Atlanta led 44-40
at the break.
Washington’s JaVale McGee blocked seven shots, making some of
them look ridiculously easy. But he picked up his fifth foul midway
through the final period and wasn’t much of a factor the rest of
NOTES: Atlanta F Maurice Evans sat out after having his right
knee drained on Friday. An MRI showed that swelling he’s had was
just part of the normal healing process after arthroscopic surgery
over the summer. … Washington activated rookie F Kevin Seraphin
as a reward for playing well in practice. He didn’t get into the
game, however. … Wall is playing with tendinitis in his right
knee, but he said it doesn’t bother him because of daily