After years of struggling, the Atlanta Hawks are finally starting to gain some confidence.

The Hawks will be trying for their longest winning streak in more than eight years Wednesday when they host the Indiana Pacers.

Atlanta (14-12) last reached the playoffs in the strike-shortened 1999 season, and has not posted a winning record since. However, Friday's 97-92 win in Washington put the Hawks two games over .500 - the furthest along in a season they've been that far over the break-even mark since 1999.

The victory also gave Atlanta its first four-game winning streak since March 7-13 last season. The Hawks, who moved past Washington into second place in the Southeast Division, haven't won five in a row since Nov. 27-Dec. 8, 1999.

"I really think that everybody - and when I say 'everybody,' I mean my teammates - they really believe that we can play with these other teams," said Joe Johnson, who scored 16 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter Friday. "That's the biggest thing. That confidence will get you a long way in this league."

Johnson leads the team with 22.1 points per game and has averaged 28.8 during the winning streak.

"Man, he was great - just knocking down big shots when we needed him to make it," teammate Josh Smith said. "They were doubling him and he was passing the ball up, finding extra guys, just giving his teammates confidence out there. He has trust in everybody."

Smith had 16 points and 14 rebounds for his third double-double during the Hawks' winning streak. Marvin Williams scored 22 points and is averaging 22.3 during the four-game run - 5.5 better than his season average.

Josh Childress returned after missing four games with a strained right groin and had four points and 11 rebounds in 23 minutes.

The Hawks have won five of six at home, where they are 9-6 this season.

This is their first game against the Pacers (15-13) since dropping three of four meetings last season after sweeping the four-game series in 2005-06.

Indiana has won four of its last five games, including Saturday's 93-85 victory over the Wizards. Danny Granger scored 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter for the Pacers, who failed to score in triple digits for the first time in five games and the second in 11.

"It was a grind-it-out win," Indiana coach Jim O'Brien said.

The Pacers were coming off a 131-118 loss in Minnesota that ended a season high-tying three-game winning streak. That loss was just the third in their last 10 road games.

"It's more about trying to be consistent, that's where we are right now," said Jermaine O'Neal, who had 18 points and eight rebounds against the Wizards. "We play very well against teams that are very good, and play poorly against teams that have struggled. In order for us to be good down the stretch run, we have to figure out how to do away with the bad losses."

Center David Harrison did not play because of back spasms, and O'Brien said before the game he will be out seven to 10 days.


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