Jamal Crawford scored 24 points, Al Horford had 23 and the Atlanta Hawks overwhelmed Charlotte with dominating performances in the first and third quarters, beating the Bobcats 103-89 Friday night.
The first-place Hawks made 11 straight shots in the opening period and raced to a 16-point lead. Charlotte turned it around in the second quarter, closing the gap to 47-43 by halftime.
Then, just like that, Atlanta turned it back on again. The Hawks made 12-of-18 shots, converted a trio of three-point plays and stretched the margin back out to 22 points.
Gerald Wallace led Charlotte with 25 points, but the Bobcats failed to set a franchise record with their seventh straight win. They settled for tying the mark of six in a row.
The Hawks made 15 of 20 in the first quarter. Joe Johnson led the way with 11 points, while Charlotte had a hard time just holding on to the ball; the Bobcats turned it over seven times, leading to 12 Atlanta points.
As if the first quarter wasn't bad enough for the Bobcats, point guard Raymond Felton had to be helped off the court after spraining his right ankle in the final minute of the period.
He was cutting through the lane at the offensive end when he stepped on Crawford's left foot and twisted the ankle. Felton went down in severe pain, then was taken to the locker room with arms wrapped around the shoulders of two team officials, putting no weight on his foot. While X-rays were negative, Felton didn't return after testing his ankle at halftime.
Even without Felton, Charlotte managed to change the flow of the game in the second quarter. Wallace and Stephen Jackson both knocked down all three of their shots, Charlotte hit 11 of 17 overall and the Hawks suddenly went cold (7 of 20).
Jackson finished with 24 points.
Charlotte headed to the locker room with all the momentum, but the Hawks figured things out during the break. Running at every opportunity, Atlanta returned to its dominating form of the opening quarter, creating all sorts of easy baskets and three-point opportunities. Horford scored nine points in the period, Johnson added eight, while Marvin Williams and Josh Smith chipped in with six apiece.
Atlanta showed off its balance in this one. Johnson had 19 points, Williams and Smith 14 apiece.
The Bobcats didn't quit. They got as close as nine with a little over two minutes remaining, but Crawford snuffed out the comeback with a 3-pointer from the corner.
NOTES: The Hawks signed G Mario West to a second 10-day contract before the game. ... Charlotte C Tyson Chandler will be examined Saturday and may be able to remove the walking boot from his left foot (stress reaction). He had to put the boot back on after doing some running Tuesday. Chandler has missed 14 games since being hurt a month ago. ... Hawks coach Mike Woodson had a batch of letters on his desk from second-graders in Charlotte, asking him to support Wallace for the All-Star game. ... Chad Ochocinco of the Cincinnati Bengals attended the game after visiting an Atlanta children's hospital. ... Boris Diaw and Nazr Mohammed both missed dunks for the Bobcats. ... Wallace got clipped in the nose going for a loose ball in the first quarter, leading to a brief delay while the bleeding was stopped.
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