Hawks implode, lose to Bobcats late
By CHARLES ODUM
AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — Paul Silas kept telling his Charlotte Bobcats to just keep playing, no matter how bad their chances looked against the Atlanta Hawks.
The Bobcats didn’t give up when the Hawks scored 13 straight in the first quarter. They didn’t stop shooting when they missed their first 14 shots of the second period in Atlanta’s 16-0 run, and they kept playing when they trailed by 22 in the first half and 18 in the third quarter.
The Bobcats’ determination paid off when Stephen Jackson hit a last-second jumper over two Atlanta defenders to give the Bobcats an 88-86 win over the Hawks on Saturday night.
“This team doesn’t quit,” Silas said. “I’ve got to give credit to these guys because they very easily could have folded and they didn’t.”
Jackson, a former Atlanta player, scored 32 points, including the winning shot over Maurice Evans and Al Horford. Jackson hopped onto the scorer’s table before running off the court thumping his chest and yelling, “That’s what I do!”
Jackson said he wants the ball when the game is on the line.
“I want it every game at the end,” Jackson said. “If you know anything about me, I want the ball at the end. I don’t mind taking the shot.”
Jackson scored on the difficult shot following a Charlotte timeout with 5.6 seconds remaining.
“Before we even sat down for the timeout, drawing up the play, everybody was telling me, ‘Take us home! Take us home!'” Jackson said. “Thank God it went down.”
Shaun Livingston scored a season-high 22 points as Charlotte earned its first win in Atlanta since 2007. Gerald Wallace had 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Bobcats.
Josh Smith had 28 points for Atlanta.
Hawks coach Larry Drew said his team lost its offensive focus after taking the big lead. The Hawks made only five of 23 3-pointers, and many of the misses came after they built the big lead.
Drew wanted his team to take higher-percentage shots closer to the basket.
“When you’re up by 20 or 22 points, it’s not the time to go for home runs,” Drew said. “You have to keep getting singles until you eventually wear the team down.”
The Hawks were 1 for 17 from the field in the first 9 minutes of the final quarter before Smith’s left-handed jam and free throw tied it at 82.
Jackson’s jumper gave Charlotte an 86-84 lead with 1:04 remaining. Horford’s drive tied the game and, following a miss by Livingston, Atlanta called timeout with 23.8 seconds remaining. Joe Johnson missed a jumper, and the Bobcats controlled the rebound and called a timeout to set up Jackson’s winner.
Smith said if the Hawks’ defense had played any closer on Jackson on the final shot, “it would have been a foul.”
“He made a tough shot,” Smith said. “You have to tip your hat to Stephen Jackson.”
Livingston was averaging only 5.6 points before making eight of 13 shots.
“This was definitely a confidence-booster for us and for me especially,” Livingston said. “I know I can perform in this league. I just have to go out there and get it done.”
Atlanta now faces seven straight road games following two straight troubling home losses. The 76ers crushed the Hawks 118-83 on Tuesday night.
“Hopefully we can go out on the road and get well,” Drew said. “I told them it’s a great time to go out on the road.”
The Hawks led 70-52 in the third quarter before Charlotte regrouped with 14 straight points. The Bobcats’ last lead was 7-6 in the opening minutes before taking a 75-74 lead early in the final period.
Horford, the Hawks’ All-Star center, had a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds after missing two games with a lower back contusion. He wore a brace on his lower back and needed to play through one period before gaining his confidence on offense.
Horford didn’t attempt a shot while playing 7 minutes in the opening period, but he scored on an inside move to open the second quarter. Horford made his first five attempts, including four in the 18-0 run.
Notes: Charlotte ended a seven-game losing streak in Atlanta with its first win at Philips Arena since Jan. 19, 2007. … Johnson and Mike Bibby each had 11 points while combining to make only eight of 24 shots. … The Hawks made only 12 of 41 shots (29.3 percent) in the second half.
Updated February 12, 2011