Hawks honor Collier before win over Hornets

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- Joe Johnson's latest return to Arkansas was a more somber occasion than usual. He and the Atlanta Hawks are still struggling to cope with the recent death of teammate Jason Collier.

"It's been tough, man. It's been tough," Johnson said. "But we've found ways to get through it."

Al Harrington scored 23 points and Johnson added 15 to lead the Hawks over the New Orleans Hornets 97-94 in an exhibition game Tuesday night. Atlanta was playing for the second time since the 28-year-old Collier died early Saturday.

Players and fans observed a moment of silence before the game, and the Hawks displayed Collier's jersey in their locker room, placing it and his shoes atop a black bag.

Johnson, who played college basketball at Arkansas, received a warm ovation before the game. He delighted the crowd with a fast-break dunk in fourth quarter after taking a nifty between-the-legs bounce pass from Harrington.

"I'm glad they came out and showed a lot of love and support," Johnson said. "It was great to get a win in front of them."

Johnson hasn't stayed away from Arkansas since leaving college. He said he was back in Little Rock as recently as this summer. But whenever he has a chance to return for a game, it's special.

"I marked it on the calendar," Johnson said.

New Orleans trailed 97-86 after Josh Childress' dunk, but J.R. Smith's 3-pointer with 42 seconds remaining capped an 8-0 run and pulled the Hornets within three.

Harrington then drove the baseline with the shot clock running down and drew a foul on David West. Harrington missed both free-throw attempts, but Arvydas Macijauskas missed a 3-pointer in the final seconds.

Childress had 20 points for Atlanta.

Smith led New Orleans with 26 points, going 6-of-9 from 3-point range. Rookie Chris Paul had eight assists for the Hornets.

Atlanta led 56-43 after shooting 56 percent in the first half.

The game was originally scheduled to take place in Louisville, Ky., but was moved to Alltel Arena in August. Attendance was only 4,290, and the scoreboard didn't work properly during the early minutes, forcing the public address announcer to give score updates after each basket.