After opening the season with six consecutive victories, the Atlanta Hawks have hit a bit of a road block.The Hawks look to avoid a third straight loss when they host the New Jersey Nets to conclude a home-and-home series Saturday night.
Two nights after losing by a point at Boston, Atlanta (6-2) helped New Jersey snap a three-game losing streak with a 115-108 loss to the Nets on Friday.
Joe Johnson scored 30 of his game-high 32 points in the second half, but Atlanta was outscored by 10 in the final quarter and allowed its most points of the season to a team that topped the 100-point mark for the second time in 2008-09.
Devin Harris scored 30 points on 8-for-17 shooting and added eight assists with six rebounds for the Nets (3-5) in his first game back after missing three with a sprained left ankle.
"Give (the Nets) credit because coach (Lawrence) Frank had them ready and we just didn't get it done tonight," said Hawks coach Mike Woodson, whose team went 2-2 to conclude their recent road stretch. "They made the plays and hit big shots down the stretch. We had no answer for it."
Marvin Williams and Flip Murray each had 21 points for the Hawks, who allowed 85.8 points in their first five games of the season, but have yielded 108.7 in their last three contests.
"I thought we were lethargic to start the game," said Woodson as each team shot 47.5 percent from the field.
Averaging a career-high 25.4 points on the season, Johnson has scored 60 in his last two contests. He was 11-for-16 from the field and 5-for-8 from 3-point range against the Nets. He's averaging, however, 15.8 in 20 career games against the New Jersey.
With Friday's victory, New Jersey has won six of the last seven meetings against the Hawks, with the one loss during that span coming 104-92 at Atlanta on Feb. 2. Johnson was held to 10 points in that contest, but Williams had 24 and seven rebounds.
Harris, who's averaging 21.0 points in five games this season, scored 38 on 9-for-15 shooting in his previous game before the injury, a 103-96 win over Detroit on Nov. 7. He's averaging 25.0 points on 48.8 percent shooting and 7.0 assists in his last three games versus Atlanta.
"He's got some grit," Frank said of Harris' effort on the still tender ankle. "It shows what he's got inside of him. Devin's a competitor and he continues to keep growing."
On Friday, Harris was complemented by 26 points from Vince Carter and 25 from rookie Brook Lopez, who also added nine rebounds for the Nets, who'll try to win consecutive games for the first time this season.
"It was important to come out with a good effort," Harris said. "We had some lapses but we fought through."
Carter is averaging 23.1 points on the season and 26.8 in his last four contests.