Saturday, April 12, 2008
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NEW YORK - Joe Johnson kept the Atlanta Hawks in control of the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, scoring 34 points Friday night in a 116-104 victory over the New York Knicks.
Trying to end the NBA's longest postseason drought, the Hawks remained two games ahead of the Indiana Pacers with three to play for each team. Atlanta trimmed its magic number to two for its first playoff berth since 1999.
Josh Smith and Mike Bibby added 24 points apiece for the Hawks, who won all four meetings with the Knicks this season, sweeping the series for the first time since moving to Atlanta for the 1968-69 season. Al Horford finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
The Hawks host Boston today in what could be a preview of a first-round series.
The Knicks fell to 23-57 and still need one more victory to avoid tying the franchise record of 59 losses, which they matched just two years ago during Larry Brown's only season.