"We knew it would be a tough game," Johnson said. "We knew they wouldn't give up. They play hard."
Despite 25 points and a season-high 19 rebounds from Antawn Jamison, the Wizards lost their third straight and seventh in their last nine as the team tries to play through problems related to Gilbert Arenas' suspension.
"I don't think it's ever going to be out of our minds," Washington coach Flip Saunders said.
The Hawks, winners of three straight and four of five, led by as many as 22 points on Al Horford's free throw late in the second, but Washington pulled within two when Jamison's turnaround jumper made it 66-64 with 11:41 remaining.
Crawford's 3-pointer pushed the lead to 12 with 5:43 left, and the Wizards were unable to mount another significant threat.
"If I miss my first 10 shots, that doesn't faze me," Crawford said. "In the fourth quarter, I make my shots."
Saunders was hoping a two-game road trip, which ends Friday in Chicago, would help his players concentrate on basketball amid the criminal investigation that led to Arenas' indefinite NBA suspension Jan. 6.
Instead, the Wizards were outscored 50-22 in the paint and 21-3 on the break.
"The way we started the game, it could have been really ugly," Saunders said. "I think it shows the character of a guy like Jamison that we didn't quit. We've got to get off to better starts."
Added Jamison, who had 17 points in the second half: "That first half, I'm missing shots that I make with my eyes closed. During the course of the season, you're going to have games like that. It was a back to back, and the ball just wasn't going in for us, but we didn't stop playing. We chipped away and pretty much made a game out of it."
"What did we get down?" center Brendan Haywood said. "Twenty-one? Twenty-two? When you dig that deep a hole, we gave the Hawks a cushion they had to work with the whole game. We had a hard time containing them off the dribble."
The Hawks went on a 20-3 run to begin the second, taking a 21-point lead at the 4:50 mark on Johnson's 3. Washington, though, ended the second on a 15-6 run.
"The last three or four minutes of the second quarter, we let them back in the game," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. "We just didn't close the quarter out. In the third quarter, they had their way, but we were able to regain our composure in the fourth and bring it home."
Washington played without G Mike Miller (straight right calf). ... The Hawks were without C Zaza Pachulia (flu) and G Maurice Evans (birth of child). ... The Wizards fell to 1-11 when committing more turnovers on the road, 5-16 overall. ... Atlanta improved to 14-2 at home, 22-4 overall, when entering the fourth quarter with a lead.