Horford saves Hawks late in fourth and OT

ATLANTA - Trevor Booker tried to lead Washington to a rare win in Atlanta Friday, but it was Al Horford’s night.

Horford tied a career high with 34 points, including the tying free throws in the fourth quarter and the winning jumper at the buzzer in overtime as the Hawks won 101-99 at Philips Arena.

Booker, whose 24 points were two short of tying a career high, hit a beautiful, reverse lay up with just under two seconds left in the extra session, tying the game at 99-99.

At the other end, Horford calmly drained a baseline jumper from 11 feet, sending the Hawks (12-11) to their 11th consecutive home victory over the Wizards (9-12).

“It was good for our group to win a close game,” said Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer. “Two huge free throws by Al Horford to send the game into overtime, then a big basket to win it. Heck of a game by Al Horford.”

Atlanta had gone ahead 99-95 on a runner by Jeff Teague at the 44-second mark of overtime. Washington’s John Wall, who had 11 points in the fourth and five assists in overtime, assisted on Booker’s jumper that made it a two-point game. Shelvin Mack missed a 3-pointer for Atlanta, and after a Wizards’ time out, Booker’s athletic reverse at the rim evened things up.

Wall made just 6-of-22 shots on the night, but saved his most important make for his last, draining a go-ahead 3-pointer late in the fourth to give the Wizards an 86-84 advantage. After three empty possessions and a missed lay up by Mack, Al Horford was fouled on a shot attempt and knocked down the tying charity shots with five seconds to play.

The Wizards cleared out for Wall on the final possession of regulation, but the third-year guard was blanketed by DeMarre Carroll and long on a potential winning 3-pointer as time ran out.

“It was great to have DeMarre thee to use him in a defensive situation,” said Budenholzer.

Atlanta led by as much as 15 points at 80-65 in the fourth, but Washington came storming back.

Wall and Marcin Gortat led the come back, though Trevor Ariza picked up his first points since late in the second quarter to get a 16-2 spurt started. The Wizards got six points and one of six assists for Gortat and pulled to within 82-81 on a nice lay up by Wall. Sandwiched around a put-back dunk by Horford, Wall hit a fadeaway jumper and the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:40 to play.

“Losing the lead is never easy, those games are tough to win. The fact that Al hit the two free throws to send it to overtime…made it feel a little bit different,” said Budenholzer. “We felt like we had an opportunity to win a game.”

Atlanta started the second half strong and built as much as an 11-point cushion in the third. Kyle Korver hit a bucket, then assisted on Carroll’s 3-pointer after great team ball movement that pushed the Hawks’ lead out to 62-52.

Wall played sparingly in the third, and with no true point guard on the floor, the visitors struggled.

Washington, which hasn’t won at Philips Arena since January, 2008, had just five made field goals in the third and Atlanta grabbed a 67-56 lead on a pair of free throws by Elton Brand with 2:29 left.

Korver drained a 3-pointer with two and a half minutes remaining in the opening quarter, extending his league-record streak of consecutive games with a long ball to 92 games.

That shot gave Atlanta its first lead at 15-14, Korver added another jumper and Lou Williams added a nifty runner in the lane as the Hawks closed the first up 21-19.

The Wizards got a spark from its bench at the start of the second. Glen Rice assisted on buckets by Jan Vesely and Garrett Temple, while Rice drained a pair of 3-pointers. Later, Vesely threw down a dunk off an alley-oop pass from Temple, which capped a 12-3 spurt and put the Wizards up 35-28 with 7:15 left until halftime.

Atlanta had a 15-5 run during one stretch as Horford had eight of his 17 first-half points. That gave the hosts a 43-40 lead, and it was a four-point cushion after Korver looked to have traveled, but instead knocked down a long 3-pointer, part of a 16-point night. Booker had the last of his 10 first-half points on a short jumper to get Washington to within 48-46 at halftime.

The Hawks struggled early from the field, hitting just one of their first eight shots, but the cold shooting didn’t last. Atlanta hit 11-of-19 shots in the second, including Horford’s 5-of-7 quarter.

Korver and Paul Millsap each added 16 points for Atlanta, while the Wizards got 15 points from Martell Webster.

Atlanta (at New York) and Washington (hosted the Los Angeles Clippers) both played late Saturday in games that ended too late for this edition.