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Hawks win fifth in a row

POSTED: April 14, 2008 5:00 a.m.
The Associated Press/

Atlanta Hawks forward Marvin Williams, left, fouls Toronto Raptors guard T.J. Ford as he drives towards the basket during the first half of the Hawks 127-120 overtime win on Wednesday at Philips Arena.

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ATLANTA — Mike Bibby hit a tying 3-pointer in regulation, Josh Smith made two in overtime, and the Atlanta Hawks beat the Toronto Raptors 127-120 on Wednesday night for their fifth straight victory.

The Hawks increased their lead for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot to four games over Indiana, which lost 92-77 at Boston.

Toronto is tied for fifth place with Washington and Philadelphia.

Smith’s 3-pointer from the right side, making it 114-113 with 2:05 left in overtime, gave the Hawks their first lead since Josh Childress hit a pair of free throws with 4:25 left in the second quarter.

Chris Bosh’s three-point play put Atlanta back ahead with 1:18 to play, but Bibby followed with a 3 before Josh Childress blocked T.J. Ford’s jump shot. Smith’s 3 from nearly the same spot as his previous attempt made it 122-118.

Bosh had 24 for Toronto, and Ford finished with 23 points and 13 assists. Rasho Nesterovic scored 21 points and reserve guard Jose Calderon handed out 10 assists for the Raptors.

Joe Johnson led the Hawks with 28 points. Bibby had 26 and Smith finished with 24. Bibby and Johnson combined for 23 assists. Al Horford pulled down 11 rebounds.

Bibby forced overtime with a 3-pointer from the left corner, taking Childress’ inbounds bounce pass from the baseline and shooting over Bosh’s outstretched arm.

Leading by 17 on Nesterovic’s runner with 1:09 left in the third, Toronto had almost nothing go right after Jamario Moon’s 18-footer gave it a 105-98 lead with 5:19 remaining.

The Raptors made just one basket in their last nine possessions of regulation — a 6-foot runner by Ford that gave them a 107-104 lead with 1:32 left.

Toronto was 15-for-20 from the field in the third quarter, led by Anthony Parker’s 4-for-4, before everyone but Ford and Bosh went cold.

Notes: With a 35-40 record, Atlanta matched its single-season high in victories for the first time 1997-98. ... The Hawks, who haven’t made the playoffs since 1999, will put first-round tickets on sale Saturday. ... They beat the Raptors for the first time in five tries. ... Nesterovic’s 3-pointer at the end of the first quarter was his first in 11 career regular-season attempts.



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