Harrington, Johnson Lead Hawks Past Hornets
Atlanta 101, New Orleans/Oklahoma City 93
ATLANTA (Ticker), Jan. 7 - For the second straight night, the Atlanta Hawks held on to a lead down the stretch.
Al Harrington scored 24 points and Joe Johnson added 20 as the Hawks won their second straight game with a 101-93 victory over the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets, who had their three-game winning streak snapped.
"As a unit, these guys have worked their butts off and they put themselves in a lot of games to win down the stretch," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. "They went through that one spell after winning five out of seven where we lost four straight and in three of those, we controlled the basketball game.
"We could have won some of those, but we didn't make plays down the stretch. The last two nights we did everything we were supposed to do down the stretch to secure the win."
Harrington and Johnson have been bright spots for Atlanta this season, leading them in scoring in 26 of 31 games. On Saturday, they combined to make 16-of-33 shots and 12-of-12 free throws.
J.R. Smith's 3-pointer to start the third quarter inched the Hornets within 57-56 before the Hawks used a 16-6 run to help open an 82-72 lead entering the fourth quarter.
"We figured out a way to win," said Hawks forward Josh Smith, who scored 12 points. "In these last two wins, if you look at the assists we had in those games, they were kind of high. The best thing that you can do is just pass the ball and get everyone involved, and we'll win games."
David West made two free throws to cut the deficit to 91-87 with 4:43 remaining. On the ensuing possession, Tyronn Lue found Johnson wide open for a 3-pointer.
"We knew they had a pretty good core of guys," said Hornets guard J.R. Smith, who scored seven points. "But we didn't think they could play as well as a team as they did tonight. They made open shots, and we missed ours. We didn't run our offense as well as we could." Lue had a three-point play and Harrington made a jumper from the right corner to build the lead to 101-91 with 2:01 left. Josh Smith's block on Speedy Claxton sealed the victory with just over one minute remaining.
"We had to weather the storm tonight," Harrington said. "They gave us our best effort. Speedy was very tough to guard on the pick-and-roll, but we were able to persevere and get the win."
"At the end of the game we were made plays," Johnson said. "When their defense collapsed on our guys, we kicked it out and made open shots."
Lue scored 15 points and rookie Marvin Williams added 11 for the Hawks, who shot 52 percent (38-of-72) from the field and handed out 17 assists to overcome 19 turnovers.
Claxton scored a career-high 29 points and David West had 22 points and nine rebounds for the Hornets, who shot 44 percent (34-of-76). They played without rookie sensation Chris Paul, who suffered a thumb injury Friday and is out at least two weeks.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game, because Chris was out," J.R. Smith said. "But you have to come out and play no matter who is playing, and be ready to play a good team. I think we were lackadaisical. Coming off an 18-win season, we can't afford to do that this year."