WASHINGTON -- The Atlanta Hawks were finally able to breathe easily.
After nearly frittering away a 17-point third-quarter lead, the Hawks were able to squeeze by the Washington Wizards, thanks to Al Horford's three-point play with 12.4 seconds remaining.
Horford's big play broke a tie in Atlanta's 102-98 victory over Washington on Saturday night.
Washington's Caron Butler hit a 3-pointer with 1:10 to play to tie it at 98 after Atlanta had a 17-point lead early in the third quarter.
Darius Songaila's turnover with 31.8 seconds left gave the ball to Atlanta. Mike Bibby, who led Atlanta with 21 points, fed Horford for a layup, and he was fouled by Butler. Horford, who had 19 points, 13 rebounds and six assists, hit the free throw for a 101-98 lead.
"I don't like games to get that close," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "We make it close coming down the stretch."
DeShawn Stevenson was fouled by Bibby with 6.9 seconds to play, but he missed both free throws. Maurice Evans hit one of two free throws with 5.7 seconds to play to complete the scoring.
"I don't know if it was energy, but they were hitting shots and we weren't," Bibby said.
Washington played its third game under interim coach Ed Tapscott. After winning their first game against Golden State, the Wizards have dropped their last two, and are just 2-12 this season.
It was a case of the Wizards falling far behind and not being able to take a fourth-quarter lead.
"So much energy trying to get back from [17 points down] that you're just fatigued at the end," Tapscott said.
"That's an excuse. We [were] in the game. We had the opportunity to win the game," Jamison said. "We've been through this before."
The Wizards somehow got back in the game, impressing Horford.
"I felt like we played good throughout, they just took it to another level towards the end of the game," Horford said.
The Hawks, who lost their previous five road games, sped to a 28-14 lead. They made all four of their 3-point attempts in the first quarter.
Atlanta is 5-5 on the road.,
The NBA leaders in 3-point shooting, Atlanta was 7-for-12 in the first half en route to a 55-45 lead. Bibby, who also had six assists and five rebounds, had 17 of his points in the first half, when he hit all six of his field-goal attempts -- three of them 3-pointers.
Antawn Jamison led Washington with 26 points and 13 rebounds. He had 17 of his points in the second half. Butler had 21 points and 10 rebounds. Songaila had 16 points.
Atlanta started the season winning its first six games for the first time since 1997-98. Since then, the Hawks are 4-6.
The Hawks scored the first seven points of the third quarter to take a 62-45 lead.
Atlanta was without F Josh Smith for the 12th straight game. Smith, sidelined by a sprained left ankle, is nearly ready to play according to Woodson. "We're going to give him a little more time to practice," Woodson said. The Hawks are off until Tuesday night against Memphis. Smith did make his presence felt by drawing a technical foul for arguing with referee Marc Davis in the first quarter. ... C/F Oleksiy Pecherov was again inactive for Washington.