ATLANTA -- The Hawks got off to another sluggish start.
They're finishing just fine.
For the second straight game, the Hawks came out like they preferred to be elsewhere.
Washington raced to a 13-4 lead on Wednesday, but Atlanta rallied for a 91-87 victory over the woeful Wizards. This time, the Hawks fell behind 21-8 against a team that's not much better, only to rip off seven straight points at the end to escape with another win.
"That's something we've definitely got to get together, especially when we go on the road," Johnson said. "We can't come out flat like that."
Charlotte went ahead for the last time in the back-and-forth game -- there were 20 lead changes, 13 of them in the final quarter -- when Raymond Felton hit a jumper from the top of the key, giving the Bobcats an 81-80 lead.
But Williams put the Hawks ahead to stay on a 3-pointer with 2:12 remaining. The Charlotte defense collapsed on Johnson, who swung the ball to Maurice Evans. He whipped it around to Williams all alone in the corner, and the shot ripped through the net.
Williams has been working on his long-range shooting, and the effort is clearly paying off. He also hit a big 3 in the win over Washington.
"I'm just trying to build my confidence and extend my range a little bit," Williams said. "If we're able to keep making shots from the perimeter the way we're doing, teams are going to have to think twice about doubling Joe, which would be bad for them. It's going to be pick your poison."
Rookie D.J. Augustin led the Bobcats with a career-best 26 points, only to miss a fallaway jumper from the baseline when Charlotte needed it most. Evans then came up with a big hoop for Atlanta, swishing an 18-foot jumper with 1:24 left.
"You have to give them credit," said Charlotte coach Larry Brown, whose team has lost three in a row and five of six. "Marvin made a huge 3 for them. Joe is terrific. Under the circumstances, I was encouraged."
In addition to the early 13-point deficit, the Hawks had to overcome 21 turnovers. Mike Bibby, who had only four points through the first three quarters, came alive in the fourth from beyond the 3-point stripe, hitting three of the long-range shots. He finished with 14 points, and Evans chipped in with 10.
"We've got to start playing the first quarter," Bibby said. "We've got to start playing from ahead instead of playing from behind."
Augustin, who was averaging a modest 10 points a game, doubled up on that before the third period was done. He connected on 7-of-11 from outside the arc.
"Coach told me to be aggressive," Augustin said. "I've been hesitating. He told me to take shots when I'm open."
Gerald Wallace, with 17 points, was the only other Charlotte player in double figures. The Bobcats hit just 42 percent (33 of 78) from the field.
The Hawks got off to a miserable start. They went nearly five minutes without scoring, missing four straight shots and turning it over three times as Charlotte bolted to a 16-6 lead. Clearly frustrated, the Hawks kept barking about calls until Johnson was hit with a technical. Matt Carroll made the free throw, which gave the Bobcats their biggest lead.
Atlanta clawed its way back in the second, going ahead for the first time since the opening minute when Bibby hit a jumper with 4:38 left in the half to make it 34-33. The Hawks were up 47-43 at the break and appeared to be pulling away late in the third period when Johnson hit back-to-back 3s, pushing Atlanta to a 62-56 lead.
But Charlotte closed the third on a 7-0 run, snatching the lead on a frantic series in the closing seconds. Jared Dudley laid it in off a nifty pass from Augustin, then Carroll stole the inbounds pass from Al Horford, went up strong for the basket and was fouled by Horford with 3.2 seconds remaining. Carroll made the free throw to complete the three-point play, pushing the Bobcats to a 63-62 lead going to the fourth.
Horford returned to the lineup after missing the previous game with a sprained ankle. He had only four points and four rebounds. ... The Friday night crowd was far short of capacity, announced at 15,068. ... While Horford was back on the court, Atlanta F Josh Smith missed his eighth straight game with a sprained ankle. ... Despite the loss, the Bobcats still hold an 11-6 edge on the Hawks since entering the league. ... Brown was called for a technical by referee Eric Lewis after he apparently yelled nothing more than, "Hey, ref."
- Dick Bavetta
- Eric Lewis
- Ed Malloy