The Atlanta Hawks sure as heck don't like making things easy, but they ultimately got the job done.
Al Horford posted 23 points and Josh Smith added 22 to lead the Hawks to a 98-87 win over the lowly New Jersey Nets on Saturday night at Philips Arena.
Jamal Crawford had 18 and Kirk Hinrich 11 for Atlanta, which clinched a playoff spot with the win.
The news wasn't all good for Atlanta, which lost Joe Johnson early in the third quarter due to a sprained right thumb injury. The Hawks All-Star injured his thumb going for a rebound, played a few sequences before Atlanta called time out.
He sat on the bench of a minute before he went to the locker room for X-Rays. He did not return. He finished with 12 points, three rebounds and four boards. Johnson's status for Sunday evening's matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers is up in the air.
Atlanta seized control in this one right off the bat, as New Jersey went ice cold from the field. After the Nets posted the first bucket of the game, the Hawks rattled off 19 consecutive points to stake themselves to an early double-digit lead.
They lead by as many as 30 before New Jersey made a late run in the fourth quarter, cutting it to 88-78 on a tip shot by Kris Humphries with 5:02 left in the game. But Horford, who was playing for Japanese earthquake relief on Saturday night, restored order by scoring the game's next six points.
Horford agreed to donate $10,000 per point to the victims of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. He will write a $23,000 check.
The former Florida Gator also had 12 rebounds for a Hawks team that held a 40-32 edge on the glass.
Anthony Morrow had 25 points and Sasha Vujacic added 13 for New Jersey, which played without Deron Williams (sore right wrist).