Washington --- The Hawks are still getting the hang of this winning-on-the-road thing. They managed only 12 victories away from Philips Arena last season, never fully embracing the role of the ornery dinner guest the way the very best teams in the NBA do.
Mike Bibby, however, has no problem playing the villain away from home. In fact, it has been one of his signature qualities.
So a night after his team wasn't able to hold on to a lead in Toronto, he made sure they did Saturday night by carrying the Hawks early and driving them late as they held off a late Washington Wizards rally for a 102-98 victory at Verizon Center, snapping a five-game road losing streak.
"You've got to have fun with it," Bibby said after leading the Hawks with 21 points, six assists, four rebounds and two steals. "You've got to out there and when you have teams down, you've got to keep them down. We have a tendency to let teams come back, like we did tonight, instead of stomping them when we have them right where we want them."
Al Horford made the game-clinching basket for the Hawks, a layup with 12.4 seconds to play that broke a 98-98 tie. Horford was fouled on the play and sank the free throw to put the Hawks up 101-98, leaving the Wizards with plenty of time to match the Hawks for late-game heroics.
But DeShawn Stevenson missed both free throws after being fouled by Bibby with 6.9 seconds to play. Mo Evans snagged the rebound and was fouled. He put the game away with 5.7 seconds left by making the first of two free throws.
The Hawks improved to 10-6 on the season and 5-5 on the road, which coach Mike Woodson considers a healthy figure. His road philosophy is rooted in breaking even.
"We're playing .500 Basketball on the road this year, and I'm pleased with that," Woodson said. "If we can play .500 on the road and handle our business at home, we're going to win our fair share of games this season."
That his team played as well as it did for as long as it did after arriving in Washington at around 2 a.m. after a gut-punching loss to the Raptors the night before spoke volumes to Woodson about their character.
Even with the game getting tight down the stretch, he applauded their effort, especially Bibby's showing early.
"We made big plays down the stretch," he said. "I don't like games getting that close. But it was a great effort on everybody's part.
"Bibby was great. I had to play him a lot of minutes tonight, but this is a game I really thought we needed in terms of trying to get off that slide of losing on the road."
All five starters scored in double figures for the Hawks. Evans added 19 with nine rebounds, Horford 19 with 13 rebounds, Joe Johnson 18 and Marvin Williams 14.
Still, the Wizards rallied from a 17-point deficit to tie the game twice in the fourth quarter.
Evans said a good push from Bibby, clutch defensive plays and sharing the ball is what carried the Hawks through.
"Mike did a great job facilitating our team and getting everybody involved and getting guys the ball in spots where they could make plays and that made all five guys dangerous," Evans said after scoring 10 of his points in the fourth quarter. "And the reality is our road record doesn't really reflect the swagger that we have. ... We just have to finish."