Johnson lifts Hawks over Wizards

Johnson lifts Hawks

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ATLANTA — Joe Johnson says his left knee “feels 15 times better.”

Atlanta's Joe Johnson drives to the hoop during the second half. Johnson, who has been battling a knee injury, matched his season high with 34 points on Friday night.  RICH ADDICKS/ASSOCIATED PRESS
RICH ADDICKS/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Atlanta's Joe Johnson drives to the hoop during the second half. Johnson, who has been battling a knee injury, matched his season high with 34 points on Friday night.

The proof is in his production.

Johnson matched his season high with 34 points, including the first two baskets of a decisive 11-0 run in the fourth quarter, and the Atlanta Hawks beat the Washington Wizards 102-88 on Friday night.

He also had 34 points on Tuesday night at Denver, gaining momentum after missing six games in late February and early March with left knee tendinitis.

“I’m starting to gain the strength back in it,” Johnson said. “I’m able to explode off it a little more and make plays. It’s definitely feeling a lot better.”

Josh Smith had 23 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for the Hawks, who have tweaked their lineup with small forward Marvin Williams missing his second consecutive game with a sore left hip.

Johnson moved from shooting guard to small forward, while Kirk Hinrich again joined point guard Jeff Teague in the backcourt.

Johnson said he likes playing in the three-guard lineup.

“I like playing a 3 when we’ve got two smaller guys out there who can really penetrate the defense and make plays and guard those little quick guys,” Johnson said. “It’s definitely an advantage for us because now you’ve got three guys out there who can create and make plays for everybody.”

Hawks coach Larry Drew said he might stick with Hinrich as a starter when Williams returns. He said he likes the added quickness in the backcourt, including on defense, and the scoring punch Williams can provide off the bench.

Former Clemson star Trevor Booker scored 18 points for the Wizards, who have lost eight in a row in Atlanta since 2008.

After trailing 54-50 at halftime, the Hawks took the lead with a 24-8 run that turned a 60-56 deficit in the third quarter into an 80-68 lead less than 3 minutes into the final period.

After the Wizards scored six in a row, the Hawks stretched the lead with an 11-0 run which started with back-to-back baskets by Johnson.

John Wall had 14 points and nine assists, and Roger Mason added 12 points for the Wizards, who were held to 34 points in the second half.


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