Johnson's surge in fourth quarter leads Hawks past Wizards

WASHINGTON - As well as Joe Johnson was shooting, it was one of his passes that led to the game's biggest basket for the surging Atlanta Hawks.

Johnson scored 16 of his 32 points in the final quarter and set up Josh Smith's tiebreaking 3-pointer with a minute left Friday night, leading Atlanta past the Washington Wizards 97-92 for its season-high fourth consecutive victory.

'Man, he was great - just knocking down big shots when we needed him to make it,' Smith said. 'They were doubling him and he was passing the ball up, finding extra guys, just giving his teammates confidence out there. He has trust in everybody.'

Smith had 16 points and 14 rebounds, and Marvin Williams scored 22 for Atlanta, which hadn't won at Washington since December 2003. The win allowed the Hawks to overtake the Wizards for second place in the Southeast Division.

It also put the Hawks (14-12) two games above .500 this late in a season for the first time since 1999, which also was the last time they made the playoffs.

'I really think that everybody - and when I say 'everybody,' I mean my teammates - they really believe that we can play with these other teams,' Johnson said. 'That's the biggest thing. That confidence will get you a long way in this league.'

Antawn Jamison led the Wizards with 30 points and nine rebounds, and DeShawn Stevenson scored 18. But the team's top scorer, Caron Butler, was limited to 13 points on 5 of 14 shooting.

As the teams went back and forth early in the fourth quarter, Johnson scored 10 straight Hawks points. Then, with the game tied at 86, Johnson passed up his own shot to set up Smith's 3 from the corner.

'He was wide open, so I had to kick it to him,' Johnson said. 'I believe he can make it, and he did.'

The Wizards wouldn't lead again, although rookie Nick Young did his best to rally the hosts. He scored a team-high eight points in the fourth quarter and finished with 14, including two free throws to pull Washington to 89-88.

On Atlanta's next possession, Smith shot an air ball, but Josh Childress was there to put it in to restore Atlanta's three-point lead.

'A big, big, big, big play,' Stevenson said.

It also was part of the Hawks' 49-33 edge in rebounds.

Still, Young's driving layup cut Washington's deficit to 91-90 with 18.3 seconds to go. After Johnson went 2-for-2 at the line 2 seconds later for a 93-90 edge, Stevenson passed to Young for an open 3-pointer, but the shot bounced out with 11 seconds left.

When Young went to the sideline seconds later, injured All-Star Gilbert Arenas - who normally would be the one taking those key shots - threw an arm around the kid and offered some words of wisdom.

'He said, 'It was a good shot. It happens. Keep taking it. Don't be afraid to take the next one,' said Young, who missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer in a loss at Philadelphia last month. 'I've got to get one down before the season's over.'

With Arenas (left knee surgery) and Antonio Daniels (sprained right knee ligament) sidelined, Roger Mason Jr. was in Washington's lineup at tipoff, his first start in the NBA since 2003-04, when he was with the Toronto Raptors.

Mason promptly missed his first three field-goal attempts and wound up 1-for-6 for three points and one assist.

'It is something that we can't use as an excuse, night in and night out, for why we lost,' Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said, when asked about the point guard situation. 'We are capable of playing better and rebounding better.'

Notes: Young started the previous two games but shot 4-for-16 in that span, including 1-for-10 his previous time out. ... G Mike Wilks made his Wizards debut, entering as a substitute late in the first quarter. ... Childress had four points and 11 rebounds after missing four games because of a strained right groin.