The Hawks look to win their seventh straight over the Wizards when the teams meet at Phillips Arena on Wednesday.
Atlanta (24-13) has won three of its last four following a four-game losing streak, which included defeats to Cleveland on back-to-back nights.
The Hawks bounced back from those losses to the Cavaliers by beating Boston twice, including a 102-96 victory Monday, but also suffered a setback to Orlando on Saturday.
“In order to get to where we’re trying to go in this league, we’ve got to go through Orlando, Boston and Cleveland,” said Joe Johnson(notes), who scored 36 points Monday against the Celtics. “We’ve been pretty successful against Boston this year, but we’ve just got to try to get some wins down the stretch.”
Johnson scored seven straight points in the fourth quarter against Boston to erase a seven-point deficit and help the Hawks prevail despite allowing Boston to shoot 55.4 percent. Jamal Crawford(notes) had 17 points and six assists and his defense helped contribute to Boston’s 16 turnovers leading to 21 Atlanta points.
“I had to turn it up,” Crawford said on the NBA’s official Web site. “Coach challenged me at halftime and said, ‘You need to be a better defender now and it’s time to step it up.’”
Crawford and the Hawks are holding opponents to an average of 95.0 points over the last five games, and will look for more of the same as they open a five-game homestand.
The Wizards (12-24) know how tough it can be to score against Atlanta. They have averaged 91.5 points while losing the last six meetings, and haven’t topped 90 in the last three. The Hawks won 100-89 on Oct. 30 in Atlanta.
Atlanta faces a Washington team continuing to struggle amid the fallout from Gilbert Arenas’(notes) indefinite suspension. The Wizards have dropped two straight, including a 99-90 loss to Detroit on Tuesday.
After three players missed the team shootaround because they were being questioned in the Arenas gun investigation, coach Flip Saunders used only nine against the Pistons. Mike Miller(notes) sat out with a sore right calf and Andray Blatche(notes) was suspended for what Saunders indicated was complaining about not getting enough plays drawn up for him.
“This is how things are going to be, and if guys aren’t going to act that way - if we have to play with five guys, we’ll play with five guys,” Saunders said. “We have to have a mindset change.”
After his team was outscored 27-11 in the second quarter, Saunders accused the players of lacking concentration. He did single out co-captains Antawn Jamison(notes) and Caron Butler(notes), along with Miller, as players who are “totally committed” to doing what it takes to win, despite all the distractions.
Jamison had 31 points and 10 rebounds in the loss while Butler had 14 points. Jamison has averaged 29.3 points and 7.8 rebounds since the Arenas suspension.
“It’s been a little chaotic around here for the most part the last couple days,” Butler said. “That’s something that you don’t want to have to keep revisiting. As a player, you want to focus on basketball and basketball only.”
Jamison missed Washington’s game against the Hawks in October, but is averaging 23.0 points in his last eight games against them.