WASHINGTON -- As he sits on the bench at the start of each game, Jamal Crawford analyzes the opposition, the defenses they are employing, and the flow of the game. The Atlanta Hawks are sure glad their sixth-man extraordinaire is a quick study.
Crawford scored 29 points and the Hawks avoided a three-game losing streak by beating the Washington Wizards 105-99 Thursday night.
"You get a chance to see what teams are doing on coverage and how you can kind of pick them apart and dissect them," said Crawford, who has led the Hawks in scoring 21 times this season. "Then I can come in and try to help do that."
The Hawks were unable to shake the Wizards for nearly three quarters before Crawford scored 12 points in the final 3:37 of the third quarter, connecting on two of his four made 3-pointers and then finishing with six free throws.
"I just wanted to mix it up," Crawford said. "I didn't want to settle just for threes after that. I knew they would get up closer so I wanted to get by them and get to the free-throw line and kind of slow the game down a little bit."
The free throws spurred a 13-1 run bridging the third and fourth quarters to help the Hawks take an 85-73 lead.
"He just comes in and changes the game," Al Horford said of the Hawks' super sub. "He really gave us a lift when we needed him to. It was tied 66-66 and he came in and made two threes and I think that changed the complexion of the game."
Horford and Joe Johnson each scored 18 points in Atlanta's first trip to the nation's capital this season for the makeup of a game that was postponed Feb. 6 due to a blizzard which left 2 feet of snow in the area.
Andray Blatche had 30 points and 10 rebounds for Washington, in the midst of a stretch of three games in three nights because of the schedule change. The Wizards have lost five straight and seven of eight.
Blatche's putback with 4:53 remaining pulled the Wizards to 92-89, but they would get no closer.
The Hawks pushed the lead back to eight, but JaVale McGee rammed home his eighth dunk of the game to pull the Wizards back to 101-97. Blatche missed a jump shot with a chance to get them closer and the Hawks made four of six free throws to seal the win.
While the Hawks had a strong shooting night, including making 8 of 17 from beyond the arc, their defense was from stellar and they were also outrebounded 42-29
"We can't have nights like this," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "We were fortunate to get out of here with a win tonight."
They are also fortunate to have a long-range shooter like Crawford. The Hawks improved to 16-5 when the 10th-year pro makes at least three from 3-point territory.
"He's been fantastic all year. He's a big part of what we do," Woodson said of Crawford, who scored five points in the final 29.3 seconds of the first quarter to put Atlanta ahead 27-22. "He's made big shots for us. He's run our offense. He's put us in position where we are today."
McGee finished with nine rebounds and scored 10 of his career-high 20 points in the fourth quarter. His eight dunks ties Orlando's Dwight Howard with the most in a game this season.
Both teams shot well in a tight first half, but also struggled to maintain possession of the ball. The Hawks shot 65 percent in the first quarter -- 62 percent in the half -- and Johnson led the way with 14 points, but also had three of the Hawks' 11 turnovers.
Following a turnover by Randy Foye, the Wizards 13th of the half, Marvin Williams took a halfcourt pass down the right side and dribbled up before swishing a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Hawks a 54-51 halftime lead.
Blatche connected on five of six shots from the field to lead the Wizards with 13 points, but also committed six of his seven turnovers in the first half.
"I'm not used to getting double-teamed", said Blatche, who has become the focal point of the Wizards offense following their trading deadline deals. "I just have to keep on learning from it, keep on trying to make better passes."
Blatche may have been the biggest culprit, but he was far from alone when it came to giving up possession as the Wizards had 20 turnovers, many of which lead directly to points on the other end.
"When the other team scores 32 points off turnovers, you really don't give yourself much of a chance," Wizards coach Flip Saunders said. "They were aggressive. They switch a lot, and we didn't make good reads, just turned the ball over."
Nick Young scored 13 points of his 17 points in the second quarter for the Wizards, who dropped their fifth straight at home in front of a crowd of 13,625.
Mike Bibby finished with 16 points for the Hawks, who have won five straight over the Wizards, including three this season.
Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas has submitted paperwork to go from No. 0 to No. 6, and the NBA approved the change, league spokesman Tim Frank confirmed in an e-mail to The Associated Press on Thursday. Arenas was given a season-ending suspension by the NBA for bringing guns to the locker room. He pleaded guilty to a felony gun possession charge in January and is scheduled to be sentenced March 26. ... Atlanta has now gone 31 games without a three-game losing skid, matching Denver for the longest active streak. ... Alonzo Gee, signed by the Wizards to a 10-day contract on March 7, made his NBA debut in the second quarter. The undrafted rookie guard from Alabama scored two points in seven minutes.
Stephen A. Smith says Westbrook is the most "ruthless and vicious" player on the court. Has Westbrook actually humbled the unanimous MVP?
Tim Legler says Cleveland needs to change its approach in Game 5 having LeBron James and Kyrie Irving getting inside and getting to the free-throw line and being less of a finesse and perimeter oriented team.
Kara Lawson breaks down how Oklahoma City's defense is forcing Stephen Curry into making poor decisions.