Joe Johnson dug himself out of a shooting slump with 36 points to lead the Atlanta Hawks to a 110-85 rout of the struggling Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday.
Atlanta’s All Star guard, who entered the night with a lone 20-point effort from his last six games, racked up 28 points in the first half and finished with six three-pointers.
Wearing a special black headband to protect his scalp after he underwent a procedure for a skin infection, Johnson just may have found a lucky charm.
“I was supposed to change headbands at halftime, but everybody jumped up saying, ‘no, no.’ I’m not a headband kind of guy, but for right now I have to wear it,” Johnson told reporters.
Josh Smith added 17 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks for the Hawks (39-28) who exploded with a 20-0 run spanning the first and second quarters en route to a second straight win.
With the win, Atlanta moved two-and-a-half games behind the fourth-place Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference.
Milwaukee (26-40), coming off an embarrassing loss to the Boston Celtics on Sunday when they scored a franchise-worst 56 points, had 21 points and 13 rebounds from Andrew Bogut, but fell two-and-a-half games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Bucks had won three straight games prior to their current two-game slide and were knocked out early by Atlanta.
“We had trouble getting back on defense early in the game, and we looked a little bit tired,” Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles said. “It was just one of those games where we didn’t play very well.”
TRAIL BLAZERS 104, MAVERICKS 101
In Portland, LaMarcus Aldridge scored 30 points and reserve Brandon Roy added 21, including a key jumper with less than a minute to go, to help the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Dallas Mavericks.
The Blazers led 100-94 with 3:50 left, but Jason Terry’s basket narrowed it to 100-99. Roy hit a pair of free throws before a pull-up jumper that made it 104-99 with 47 seconds left.
Dirk Nowitzki hit a pair of free throws, but after a timeout with 8.8 seconds on the clock, he missed a three-point attempt from the corner and time ran out for the Mavericks.
Nowitzki finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds for Dallas, which shot 59.7 percent for the game.
PACERS 119, KNICKS 117
In Indianapolis, Danny Granger’s jump shot with 0.3 seconds left gave Indiana a victory over New York.
Indiana passed the ball inbounds with 7.8 seconds left. Granger worked the clock, drove right on Shawne Williams, pulled up and connected on a 17-foot fadeaway.
Granger, who missed Sunday’s 106-93 win in New York with strep throat, scored 26 points. Tyler Hansbrough scored a career-high 30 points after setting a career high with 29 on Sunday. Darren Collison added 24 points and nine assists for Indiana.
Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points and Amar’e Stoudemire added 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Knicks, who have lost three straight.
BULLS 98, WIZARDS 79
In Chicago, Derrick Rose scored 23 points to help Chicago earn their seventh consecutive victory and move into sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference.
Luol Deng added 20 points and Keith Bogans scored 17, his highest total since joining the Bulls. Bogans took all of his 10 shots from behind the three-point arc, hitting a season-high five.
Washington center JaVale McGee had a rare triple-double with 11 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocks, the most by an NBA player since Toronto’s Keon Clark had 12 on March 23, 2001.