Hawks close in on playoff spot with first win over Spurs in five years

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ATLANTA -- Marvin Williams scored 26 points to lead three scorers with 20 or more points and the Hawks beat the San Antonio Spurs 119-114 in overtime on Sunday night for their first win over the Spurs in five years.

Initial reports, including on ESPN.com via the Associated Press recap, said that the Hawks had clinched a playoff berth. However, Atlanta is not yet assured of a spot in the postseason.

The Hawks have a 3-1 series lead over Chicago and would earn a playoff berth if the two teams tie at the end of the regular season. However, the Hawks could still be vulnerable if a tie involves multiple teams.

Atlanta has 13 games remaining in the regular season.

After the game, the Hawks players were told they had made the playoffs. Joe Johnson said making the playoffs "was one of our goals, but it's not our main goal. We still have a lot of work ahead of us."

Manu Ginobili, who matched his season high with 38 points for San Antonio, called the loss "heartbreaking."

Johnson's jumper with 1:21 remaining in overtime gave Atlanta a 113-111 lead. After a missed 3-pointer by San Antonio's Matt Bonner, Al Horford hit a jumper as the shot clock expired to push the lead to four points with 35 seconds remaining.

"Great game. Tough loss," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

Horford, who had six points in overtime, had 22 points and 18 rebounds. Johnson had 20 points with 13 assists.

Jamal Crawford, who had 19 points, had good reason to cherish the win. The ninth-year veteran in his first season with Atlanta is going to the playoffs for the first time.

"It's unbelievable," Crawford said. "I've been waiting for this for a long time. ... It feels good to officially get it."

Tim Duncan had 29 points and 13 rebounds for San Antonio.

The Spurs had a rough start to perhaps their toughest stretch of the season. They play at Oklahoma City on Monday before playing the Los Angeles Lakers, Cleveland and Boston.

"We know we've got a really tough stretch," Ginobili said. "We made a huge effort to stay in the game, have the opportunity to win it. We couldn't finish it.

"It's tough to lose a game like this when we had a great opportunity."

The Hawks scored 21 points off 13 turnovers by the Spurs.

"I feel we gave this one away," Duncan said. "With the stretch that we have, we can't give any away.

"I think this was a building block because we played well, well enough to win against an elite team, but we just could not get over the hump."

A tip-in by Horford tied the game at 105-all with 52 seconds remaining in regulation. After a miss by Ginobili, Johnson missed two shots on the Hawks' final possession of regulation.

The Hawks, who trailed by 14 in the first half, matched their biggest comeback of the season.

Atlanta kept the lead most of the third period and second half but the Spurs stayed close.

The Hawks moved back into a tie with Boston for third place in the Eastern Conference. They have won five of their past six games.

Williams answered coach Mike Woodson's call for more offense. Williams, averaging 10.2 points, scored 20 or more points for only the third time this season.

"I'm just trying to play with a lot of energy," Williams said.

Johnson said Williams "pretty much carried us in the first half and kept us in the game."

Williams scored 11 points in the last 5:17 of the first half, including a steal and jumper before the buzzer to give the Hawks a 53-51 halftime lead -- their first lead since 4-2.

"That was big," Williams said. "We carried that momentum into the second half."

Williams' shot capped a 23-9 run to end the half. Another highlight of the run was Josh Smith's left-handed jam on an alley-oop pass from Johnson.

Game notes
The Spurs' previous loss to the Hawks came on Dec. 10, 2005, in Atlanta. ... Williams' 18 points in the first half marked his high points total for a game in his past nine games. ... The Spurs fell to 16-17 away from San Antonio with their second straight road loss.

In an March 21 story on ESPN.com, wire services (and other entities) reported that Atlanta has clinched a playoff berth with a win over San Antonio. The Hawks clinched the head-to-head tiebreaker over ninth-place Chicago, but could still mathematically finish out of the playoffs in the event of a tie among multiple teams. The Hawks have 13 games remaining.