Hawks beat Spurs in overtime

By clinching a playoff spot with 13 games to go the Hawks clearly have higher aspirations than just making it to the postseason.

Atlanta made it official in style, though, overcoming its largest deficit of the season to beat the Spurs 119-114 in overtime on Sunday night at Philips Arena.

The Hawks assured they will play in the postseason for the third consecutive year. They are tied with Boston for third place in the Eastern Conference and can’t be caught by the ninth-place Bulls.

The Hawks won their fifth consecutive home game, and fifth in six overall. They also ended a seven-game losing streak to the Spurs, who had won three in a row at Philips Arena.

No one in an Atlanta uniform was happier than Jamal Crawford over the outcome. In his 10th season, the veteran guard finally was rewarded with his first trip to the playoffs.

"It's unbelievable," Crawford said. "I've been wating a long time for this. I'm not going to take this for granted."

Marvin Williams led the Hawks with 26 points, Al Horford had 22 and 18 rebounds, and Crawford scored 19. That helped offset Manu Ginobili’s 38 points and Tim Duncan's 29 points and 13 rebounds.

"Fantastic, but there's still a lot of work ahead of us before the playoffs," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. "We've got to keep rolling. We'll handle the playoffs once they get here."

The Hawks had to work hard for the win, coming from 14 down in the second quarter and a four-point deficit in the final 1:23 to force overtime. Joe Johnson and Horford made key plays to win it from there.

Johnson’s basket broke a 111-111 tie and Horford’s jump shot as the shot clock expired gave the Hawks a 115-113 lead with 35.9 seconds remaining. Crawford rebounded George Hill’s miss and Horford made two free throws to clinch the victory.

The Hawks earned the win after the surviving San Antonio’s rally in the fourth. The Spurs trailed 93-87 when a 7-0 run gave them a 94-93 lead.

The Hawks tied it at 101-101 on Josh Smith’s two free throws with 2:13 to play. But Matt Bonner scored and, after Williams missed a 3-point attempt, Ginoboli made two free throws for a 105-101 lead with 1:23 to play.

After Johnson scored in the lane, Horford’s steal led to his rebound basket that tied it at 105-105 with 52.3 seconds left. Horford rebounded Johnson’s miss and passed it back to him for another chance, but Johnson missed again.

It looked like the Hawks wouldn’t come close to clinching a playoff spot when the Spurs blitzed them from the start

They made 15 of 21 shots, scored 18 points in the paint and held a 15-8 rebounding advantage while taking a 33-22 lead after a quarter. Ginobili broke down each Hawks defender that switched onto him while scoring 13 points with 5-of-7 shooting in the period.

The Spurs led by as many as 14 in the second quarter. However, Williams started the comeback by scoring seven consecutive points and the Hawks closed the half on a 13-4 run to take a 53-51 lead on Williams’ jumper at the buzzer.

The Hawks made 14 of 26 shots in the second quarter but defense was the key. They held the Spurs to 41-percent shooting after allowing 71 percent in the first and evened up the rebounding with a 15-8 advantage.

Atlanta's defense wasn’t as stout in the third but the Spurs couldn’t connect on some open shots. The Hawks scored 28 in the period and held an 81-78 lead entering the fourth.

"We played hard," Hawks guard Mike Bibby said. "That's been a top team and top coach for years. We pulled it off. It's a good win."