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Atlanta rebounds from ugly loss

POSTED: February 11, 2009 12:54 a.m.

ATLANTA The Atlanta Hawks bounced back emphatically from their worst loss of the season. Joe Johnson scored 22 points and the Hawks shook off an embarrassing home defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers, routing the hapless Washington Wizards 111-90 on Tuesday night.

Atlanta raced to a 9-1 lead before most of the sparse crowd had even settled into its seats. The Hawks pushed the margin as high as 22 points in the second quarter against an injury-plagued team that has managed the modest feat of back-to-back wins only once this season.

The Wizards were coming off a 119-117 victory over the Indiana Pacers. But they missed their first seven shots and never seriously challenged the Hawks, who clearly had something to prove after a 121-97 loss to Clippers over the weekend.

After coach Mike Woodson called out of his team for not showing up, Atlanta played with much more passion against the Wizards. Of course, it also helped to have point guard Mike Bibby back in the lineup.

Bibby, who didn’t play against L.A. because of a sprained foot, scored 12 points and doled out six assists in 26 minutes.

The Hawks led 77-61 after three quarters and Woodson was able to rest his starters down the stretch. Al Horford and Josh Smith sat on the bench before the start of the final period, chuckling as they glanced up at a Valentine’s Day skit on the video board.

Atlanta will go into the All-Star break with 30 wins for the first time since the 1996-97 season, when they were 31-15. The Hawks (30-21) have one more game, at Detroit tonight, before the league’s best players head to Phoenix this weekend.

Caron Butler scored 22 points, but the last-place Wizards were outmanned, as they are on most nights without Gilbert Arenas, Brendan Haywood and Etan Thomas.

Washington turned it over 18 times, leading to 20 Atlanta points. The Hawks didn’t shoot especially well, mixing in several airballs among their 46 percent performance from the field, but they turned it over only seven times and outrebounded the Wizards 49-42.

Zaza Pachulia grabbed 12 rebounds for the Hawks, including three on one especially persistent sequence under the boards. He missed his first three attempts before finally tapping it in while the Wizards stood around helplessly.

Eleven players scored for the Hawks. The only active player to miss out on the fun was Mario West, who got an attempt under the basket with the clock winding down but watched it rim out.

He slapped his hands, hoping to get one more shot, but Acie Law dribbled out the remaining seconds near midcourt. West slapped his hands and smiled.

Notes: Washington rookie JaVale McGee set a career high with 11 rebounds to go along with 18 points. ... Antawn Jamison also had a double-double for the Wizards with 17 points and 12 rebounds. ... Johnson turned in the most minutes for the Hawks with 33. Atlanta finished with little-used Randolph Morris, Solomon Jones, Law and West on the court.



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