Johnson Nets 40, Hawks Beat Pacers in OT
Atlanta 117, Indiana 112 (OT)
INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 24 (Ticker) -- Joe Johnson and the Atlanta Hawks simply have the Indiana Pacers' number this season.
Johnson tied his career high with 40 points and sank the game-tying 3-pointer at the regulation buzzer as the Hawks edged the Pacers, 117-112, in overtime to win the season series for the first time since the 1998-99 season.
On Friday, it took overtime, but Atlanta again came out on top.
"I pretty much did (put the game on my shoulders)," Johnson said. "We got some extra life when I hit the shot to take it into overtime and I didn't want them to get up on us. I wanted to come out (in overtime) and jump on them before they jumped on us."
Johnson scored 12 straight points at the end of regulation and beginning of overtime and was 16-of-24 from the floor overall, including 5-of-5 from the arc. He added 13 assists and three steals.
"Phenomenal. He was absolutely unstoppable tonight," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "It was a real fun game, going back and forth like it did. We were just the better team tonight. Our young guys are starting to grow up."
"He hurt us the last two games and we did a lot of different things on him defensively," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "Johnson played great."
Fred Jones made 1-of-2 foul shots to pull Indiana within 113-112 with 13 seconds left. Peja Stojakovic rebounded the missed free throw and found Anthony Johnson, who missed an open 3-pointer.
Pacers rookie Danny Granger corraled the rebound but could not convert on two opportunities. After Royal Ivey gained possession and was fouled, he missed both free throws, but Atlanta's Josh Smith grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 1.6 seconds left, making both free throws for a 115-112 lead.
Stojakovic's pass for Anthony Johnson went out of bounds. Atlanta's Josh Childress threw away a pass, giving the Pacers one last chance. Without a timeout, Indiana could not advance the ball, and Smith picked off the full-court pass to secure the win.
Al Harrington added 22 points and Childress collected 18 and 11 rebounds for Atlanta (17-36), which already has won four more games than last season.
"It's good to get a win down the stretch," said Harrington, a former Pacer. "We've been in this position all season. There are probably only six or seven games this year that we haven't had an opportunity to win. Finally, tonight, we got it done."
In a tightly contested game, the Pacers managed to gain a 99-95 cushion after Zaza Pachulia mistakenly tipped in Jeff Foster's missed free throw with 1:31 left. Granger was credited with the basket.
Trailing 101-99 with 32 seconds remaining, the Hawks missed a chance to tie after Johnson's steal as Foster blocked a layup by Childress. Two free throws by Foster gave the Pacers a four-point lead eight seconds later.
With 21 ticks left, Johnson made a layup. After Stojakovic - a 92 percent foul shooter - split a pair from the stripe, Johnson's 3-pointer from the wing tied the contest at 104-104 as time expired.
"Unbelievable sequence of events at the end," Carlisle said. "When you have opportunities to close out games, you've got to take advantage of them. On the play at the end of regulation, we had a chance to get the rebound, the ball gets knocked loose, and Johnson hits the three."
The game featured 24 lead changes, including 13 in the third quarter.
Stojakovic scored 34 points and Jones tied his career high with 31 off the bench for the Pacers, who have dropped two in a row.
"It was a tough one to swallow," Stojakovic said. "We had the game in our hands and couldn't hold it. They hit the tough shot at the end of regulation. We fought them in overtime and I think that Danny got fouled on the last play, but they (referees) said to keep playing."