The Hawks close out January by hosting Golden State on Wednesday.
Atlanta is 7-7 this month, with only Wednesday’s contest left to be played. The Hawks haven’t posted a winning month since going 5-3 in January 2004.
Thanks to Johnson, they have a chance this season. Atlanta (16-27) has won three of its last four games largely on the play of Johnson. He’s scored over 30 points in two of his last three games, and poured in 34 to help the Hawks beat Orlando 93-83 at home on Monday in the second of a four-game homestand.
“That makes life easy—if he can do it every night,” Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. “He’s our go-to guy and they key on him and he gets a lot of double- and triple-teams. Tonight he was able to beat a lot of them.”
Johnson has 13 30-point games despite spending part of the time playing point guard. The Hawks signed Speedy Claxton in the offseason, hoping he could man the point for the Hawks and give Johnson a running mate, but Claxton has played only 26 games and has missed the last 10 because of a sore left knee. Backup Tyronn Lue missed 16 of 17 games with a groin injury and hasn’t played more than 26 minutes in any of the four games since he’s returned.
“We’ve got to probably start thinking about another point guard,” Woodson said.
If the Hawks can’t find anybody to fill in, they can just continue to turn to Johnson, who’s all-around play has earned him All-Star consideration. He’s averaging 4.6 assists in January and has four games this month with at least six.
Johnson also won’t mind facing Golden State again. In the teams’ last meeting, Johnson scored a career-high 42 points to lead the Hawks to a 113-106 win at home on March 7, 2006, snapping a seven-game winning streak for the Warriors in the series.
Golden State (21-24) will be looking to regroup after a disappointing 124-97 loss to Cleveland on Tuesday in the opener of a six-game road trip. The Cavaliers were missing superstar LeBron James, but the Warriors fell behind by 15 points in the first quarter and trailed by double-digits the rest of the game.
Golden State went 2-of-20 from 3-point range, committed 20 turnovers and lost its fifth straight road game.
“We’ve got to get serious about winning, that’s all it is,” said Warriors guard Baron Davis, who led the team with 21 points. “We’ve got some guys that don’t know how to prepare for the games and it shows in their play. It’s shocking that we get beat like that and LeBron is out. We talked about it this morning, that they were going to come out with a lot of hustle and passion.
“It’s like it’s falling on deaf ears.”
After winning consecutive games at home, the Warriors failed in their attempt to win three straight for just the second time this season. Golden State is 17-8 at home, but only 4-16 on the road.
Golden State will face just one other team on the trip that currently has a winning record—Indiana, at 24-21. The combined record of the Warriors’ next five opponents is 92-130.