WASHINGTON, D.C. – It wasn’t supposed to be this close. But was it ever.
DeShawn Stevenson, who the Hawks hoped not to play, hit a key 3-pointer with 2:07 remaining in overtime to help the Hawks to a 100-95 victory over the lowly Wizards Tuesday night at the Verizon Center.
The Hawks could have sealed the game at the free-throw line in the final two minutes. However, Stevenson and Al Horford each hit only one of two free throws. After a Jordan Crawford basket and a missed Hawks shot, the Wizards trailed 98-95 and had the ball with 24 seconds remaining. The Wizards’ Nene missed a shot in the paint and Kyle Korver sank two free throws with 7.7 remaining to clinch the victory.
The Hawks ordinarily don’t play the veteran Stevenson in back-to-back games and wanted to save him for Wednesday’s game against the Thunder. However, with Anthony Morrow out and Devin Harris injured during the game, coach Larry Drew had no option. When Harris couldn’t return for the second half, Stevenson got his ankles taped during the intermission.
“We were a little short-handed and I got in a situation where I was running out of bodies particularly on the perimeter and we had guys in foul trouble,” Drew said. “So I had to choice put the play DeShawn and he really stepped it up big time for me. He came in and did a great job defensively, knocked a 3 down, got a tip-in follow on a fast break.”
The Hawks (15-7) defeated the Wizards for the third time this season and sixth straight overall. It was the Hawks’ 18th victory over Washington in the past 19 games between the teams. The only game Atlanta has lost came when Josh Smith was out with an injury April 9, 2011.
The Hawks held the Wizards to five overtime points.
“It was tough,” Stevenson said of his late entrance. “I’ve been through so much in my career, getting played in the fourth quarter for two minutes and two seconds. I’m just mentally strong. We needed that win and we got it.
The Hawks have won 12 of their past 15 games. They play the second of four games in five days Wednesday at home against the Thunder.
Lou Williams led the Hawks with 24 points, including a basket and free throw in overtime. Josh Smith had 17 points and 13 rebounds and Korver finished with 16 points.
“I continued to play and stay aggressive,” Williams said. “Any time that I thought I saw a crease I was able to take it. Tonight was one of those games we didn’t play with a lot of energy so I just wanted to be aggressive any time I had the ball.”
The Wizards (3-19) lost for their fourth straight game. They were led by the former Hawk Crawford with a game-high 27 points. Crawford did a lot of talking during the game, to Jeff Teague and the Hawks bench. Teague was called for a foul after hitting Crawford in the face and it got under the skin of the guard, who hit five 3-pointers.
“That’s my homeboy,” Teague said. “We played together for half a season so we are really good friends. We were just talking a little bit – bragging rights for the summer. … We joked about it after the game. I said ‘You finally made some shots against us.’ He laughed about it.”
With the Hawks holding a one-point lead, 87-86, Smith was fouled going to the basket with 1:05 remaining. However, he missed both free throws and opened the door for the Wizards.
After a Bradley Beal floater gave the Wizards the lead, Williams answered with a 3-pointer with 43.8 seconds remaining. Back came the Wizards on a jumper from Emeka Okafor that tied the game, 90-90, with 23 seconds remaining.
Playing for the final shot, Teague drove to basket but was called for a charge with 2.7 remaining setting up overtime. Crawford missed at the buzzer to force the extra session.
“Coach told me to make a play at the rim and put it on the officials,” Teague said of the final play of regulation. “I guess they made a good play.”
When asked if he thought it was a charge, Teague said “No, but it was the call that was made.”
In three games against the Wizards this season, Smith has averaged 21.7 points and 13 rebounds.
The Hawks led by as many as eight points in the first half and took a 52-46 lead into intermission. Korver had 10 first half points, including three 3-pointers.
Coach and players pointed to the team’s defensive effort in the overtime as the reason for the victory. However, the effort will have to be there again Wednesday.
“We locked down and played solid defense,” said Al Horford, who had five points and 11 rebounds. “We need to be more consistent in that end. Tomorrow that has to be a point of emphasis because Oklahoma is probably the best team in the NBA right now. We are going to have our hands full.”
* Harris left the game in the second quarter and did not return with what the team described as a sore left foot. The guard had eight first-half points before leaving with the injury.
* Ivan Johnson left the game in the second quarter with a cut on his right hand that required four stitches. The cut was between the fourth finger and pinkie. He returned following halftime.
* Morrow missed his second straight game with a sore back. The guard practiced Monday and participated in the shoot-around Tuesday but was declared out prior to the game. Drew said the team was being cautious with the injury by giving Morrow extra rest. The team is still listing Morrow as day-to-day and his status for Wednesday’s home game against the Thunder is uncertain.
- Chris Vivlamore
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