Charlotte --- Life without Joe Johnson isn't so bad after all. Especially when Marvin Williams is in the mood to play the way he did Friday night.
Williams scored a career-high 29 points and was the man on the spot down the stretch as the Hawks rallied for a 102-97 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats at Time Warner Cable Arena.
Williams was 5-for-15 from the floor, but he made 18 of 20 free throws to help the Hawks battle back, his 40-minute night costing him late as he cramped and spent his time after the game getting pumped full of fluids.
"It's like I said before we left Atlanta ," Hawks center Al Horford said. "We needed different guys to step up with Joe out. And Mo Evans came out and shot the ball great. Josh Smith stepped up late and made defensive plays. And Marvin was just huge. He really took over the game in the second half and made plays."
The Hawks won their second consecutive road game without Johnson, their captain and All-Star who was in Atlanta trying to recover from a viral infection that cost him a week of work.
Wednesday night they survived a late rally to win on the road against Minnesota, and they'll get a chance for a third straight without Johnson tonight if he's not ready to play against the Los Angeles Clippers at Philips Arena.
If the Hawks play anything like they did in the second half Friday night, they shouldn't have any problems.
"I know we weren't playing Hawks Basketball in the first half," said Hawks coach Mike Woodson, who spent much of the second half browbeating his team into playing lockdown defense. "This is a team that averages 91 points, and they had 55 points at halftime. So our defense had to pick up in the third quarter, and it did, and it carried over all the way to the end of the game."
Mike Bibby iced the game for the Hawks (29-20) by making two free throws with 2.6 seconds to play. That was after Smith blocked Shannon Brown's driving layup and snagged an errant inbounds pass on the possession before with the Hawks clinging to a 100-97 lead with 13 seconds to play.
That the Hawks were able to win after trailing by 17 in the second quarter is a testament to their grit and stubborn nature.
Williams (12 points, four rebounds) and Bibby (eight points) served as the Hawks' catalysts, with huge assists from Evans and Flip Murray, who combined for 11 points in the third quarter and took turns knocking down half-court shots in the first and second quarters to keep the Hawks alive before halftime.
"I just needed to be aggressive for myself and for the team because we were undermanned without Joe," Evans said after his 17-point, five-rebound game. "Tonight I just feel like everybody really stepped up, from Marvin to Zaza [Pachulia] to Mike and just everybody. It was a total team effort, and without Joe being out there we needed that."
Pachulia had 10 points and eight rebounds off the bench. Murray finished with 13 and five, and Bibby added 15, four rebounds and four assists.
"It was definitely a balanced attack," Smith said after coming off the bench cold in the final seconds to make those two-game changing plays at the end. "We can do that night in and night out. We had to tidy things up after halftime. But we're capable of doing this every night if we share the Basketball, play defense and stick together."
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