Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Woodson felt his team got the boost it needed with a win over one of the NBA’s hottest clubs in the finale of western road trip.
The Hawks will try to add to that momentum by beating one of the league’s worst teams in their return to Philips Arena.
In the opener of a three-game homestand, Atlanta will go for its eighth straight win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, who have lost six of seven overall.
After blowing a 17-point fourth-quarter lead in a loss at Golden State on Sunday night, the Hawks (35-20) had to play the next night in Utah, a place they hadn’t won in 17 years.
“We were really committed tonight. Instead of playing 36 minutes, we competed for 48 minutes,” Woodson told the Hawks’ official Web site. “We bounced back and played a great team, probably the hottest team in the league. Our guys stayed the course, and they battled. We needed a game like this.”
After finishing 2-2 on the trip, Atlanta has a good chance to remain among the Eastern Conference’s top four teams as it plays five of its next six at Philips Arena, where it’s 9-2 since Jan. 6. The Hawks lead fifth-place Toronto by four games.
A visit from the struggling Timberwolves (14-44) also bodes well, considering the Hawks have won six straight home games in the series.
Minnesota, though, snapped a six-game slide Tuesday night with a 91-88 victory over Miami. Kevin Love(notes) had 17 points and 12 rebounds as the Wolves won for the second time in their last 14 road games.
“We did enough good things tonight to get a win,” said coach Kurt Rambis, whose team is 5-24 away from home this season. “This is a microcosm of how we’ve been all year. We play well in pockets.”
The Timberwolves got that victory against a Heat team playing without star guard Dwyane Wade(notes). Minnesota, though, will likely not get the luxury of ducking Johnson as it searches for its first win in Atlanta since Nov. 20, 2002, and first overall against the Hawks since April 9, 2006.
Johnson, scoring a team-best 21.7 points per game, is averaging 29.5 points on 58.5 percent shooting in the past two contests. He has also scored 23.2 points per game in his last five matchups with Minnesota.
Johnson had 21 points and Jamal Crawford(notes) led the way with 26 in a 112-87 road blowout of the Timberwolves on Dec. 22. Al Jefferson(notes) was Minnesota’s top scorer with 17 points, and Kevin Love matched a career high with 19 rebounds while finishing with 15 points.
Crawford enters this matchup shooting 38.3 percent and averaging 14.3 points - 3.2 below his season average - in four games since returning from a sore left shoulder Feb. 17.
Jefferson, Minnesota’s leading scorer with 17.4 points per game, has been held to 10 in each of his last three games. A 49.2 percent shooter on the season, the 6-foot-10 forward has shot 41.7 percent during that slump.