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Johnson powers Hawks past Pistons
Jamal Crawford scores in the second quarter against the Detroit Pistons on Saturday in Atlanta. - photo by The Associated Press

ATLANTA — Joe Johnson scored 26 points and Atlanta Hawks had their best shooting game of the season but still had to hold off Detroit’s late comeback to beat the Pistons 112-99 on Saturday night.

The Hawks took a 28-point lead in the second quarter but suffered a second-half letdown. Atlanta kept its lead in double figures from the 7:17 mark of the opening quarter until Detroit’s Ben Gordon scored with 6:45 remaining to cut the lead to 96-87.

The Hawks answered with an 11-4, including seven points from Johnson, run to push the lead back to 16 points.

The Hawks made 15 of 18 shots from the field in the second quarter to give the team its highest field-goal percentage in a quarter (83.3) and half (73.0) this season.

The Hawks made 63 percent of their shots for the game, another season high.

Josh Smith had 18 points and a career-high 11 assists for Atlanta. Jamal Crawford had 17 points and Al Horford added 15.

Jason Maxiell led Detroit with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Richard Hamilton had 18 points for the Pistons, who have lost eight of 10.

Former Georgia Tech guard Will Bynum had 17 points and seven assists one night after he set a career high with 20 assists in Detroit’s 101-87 win over Washington.

Hamilton had 14 points in the third quarter as the Pistons attempted to rally from a 69-41 halftime deficit. The Hawks’ strong start was too much to overcome.

Atlanta opened with assists on each of its 12 baskets in the first quarter and led 28-7 after an 18-1 run.

The Hawks’ 30-12 lead after the first quarter set the stage for even better shooting in the second period. Atlanta stretched its lead to 28 points at 57-29.

Detroit, already playing without starters Rodney Stuckey (dizzy spells) and Ben Wallace (knee), had forward Jonas Jerebko leave the game midway through the third quarter.

Jerebko, a rookie from Sweden, grimaced and grabbed his left shoulder after trying to stop a drive by Josh Smith.

Jerebko returned to open the final period and had nine points and nine rebounds.

NOTES: Detroit’s 12 first-quarter points were the fewest allowed by Atlanta this season. ... Bynum and Pistons coach John Kuester were called for technical fouls with 6:11 remaining in the first quarter after Bynum complained he had been fouled. ... The Hawks made 7 of 14 3-pointers. Crawford was good on each of his three attempts.

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