Venue: Philips Arena
Even though the results were different, the Atlanta Hawks have played well the last two games without their leading scorer.
After falling on a late shot in their last contest and with Joe Johnson being a game-time decision, Atlanta hopes for a more favorable outcome against the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday night.
The Hawks (43-24), who are tied with Boston for third in the Eastern Conference, return home after splitting a pair of games without Johnson (Achilles' tendinitis). After defeating league-worst New Jersey by 24 points Tuesday, Atlanta appeared on its way to its fourth straight win Wednesday against Toronto before Chris Bosh hit a shot with 2.1 seconds remaining to lead the Raptors to a 106-105 victory.
After leading by 12 at one point, the Hawks were outscored 31-19 in the fourth quarter. Jamal Crawford, who scored a season-high 33, was held to four over the final 12 minutes.
"I thought we played pretty steady throughout the ball game," coach Mike Woodson said. "But coming down the stretch we just unraveled and didn't make the plays that we needed to make."
Despite the loss, it was another outstanding game by Crawford, who tallied 25 in the win over the Nets and shot 56.0 percent versus Toronto. For the season, Crawford is averaging 17.9 points, but scoring 22.1 points per game this month.
Crawford may need to step up again Friday. Johnson, who averages 21.5 points, is day-to-day, but he wasn't listed in the team's starting lineup on the Hawks' official Web site.
Crawford scored 24 in a 103-89 home win over the Bobcats (35-32) on Jan. 22 in the most recent meeting between the teams. Atlanta has won five straight at Phillips Arena over Charlotte including a 103-83 victory Nov. 6.
The loss in January to Atlanta began a 7-12 stretch for the Bobcats. After losing by 24 at Boston on March 3, however, they have won seven of eight, including 100-92 over Oklahoma City on Wednesday.
Stephen Jackson scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half to help Charlotte rally from a 19-point first-half deficit. Stephen Graham matched a career high with 19 points while filling in for the injured Gerald Wallace (ankle).
The come-from-behind win came hours after Michael Jordan was approved as the first former player to be a majority owner of an NBA team.
"I say this all the time, that there's a different energy when he's around, in the building, in the locker room, among the players," coach Larry Brown said.
Brown's team continues to play at its best against playoff contenders. Among the other teams it has beaten during the last eight games are the Lakers, Miami and Orlando.
Charlotte may be joining those teams in the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. The Bobcats are in sixth place in the East, 4 1/2 games ahead of ninth-place Chicago.
"We're playing like we want to be a playoff team," Jackson told the Bobcats' official Web site.
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