Hawks clip Magic, advance to second round
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Joe Johnson finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds, as the Atlanta Hawks clinched their first-round playoff series against the Orlando Magic by holding on for an 84-81 victory in Game 6.
Jamal Crawford added 19 points for the Hawks, who were blown out by a 101-76 margin in Game 5 on Tuesday. But they scored just enough down the stretch to stay ahead Thursday, and got a key block from Josh Smith in the closing moments to secure the Eastern Conference quarterfinal set.
"To come home and finish this thing was just very, very emotional," said first-year Hawks head coach Larry Drew. "From the start this morning when we had our shootaround, and just listening to the guys, obviously we did not want to have a Game 7."
The victory moved the Hawks into the second round for the third consecutive season, where they will face the top-seeded Chicago Bulls starting on Monday. They also avenged last year's loss to the Magic in the East semifinals.
However, while Atlanta advanced, it also lost point guard Kirk Hinrich to a right knee injury late in the fourth quarter.
Dwight Howard finished with 25 points and 15 rebounds for Orlando, which was bounced in the first round for the first time since 2007. The Magic had reached the NBA Finals in 2009 and reached the East finals last season, but point guard Jameer Nelson didn't see this season as a step back.
"We didn't win a championship last year, so you can't really take a step back," Nelson said. "That's our goal right there, to win a championship. We didn't do that last year. Obviously this is disappointing that we are out in the first round."
Atlanta held a 76-66 advantage after Johnson knocked down a turnaround with seven minutes left, but Orlando cut into its deficit with an 8-0 run. Ryan Anderson buried a three-pointer with 4:41 left to cap the stretch and get the Magic within two.
Neither team scored again until Hinrich drove for a jumper with 3:07 on the clock, and Hinrich left the game shortly thereafter. He appeared to suffer the injury upon lifting off with his right foot.
His basket put Atlanta up by two possessions, but it was back-and-forth down the stretch, and Nelson's layup with 67 seconds to go had the Magic within 82-79. After Crawford missed at the other end, Nelson drove for another bucket with 34.3 seconds left.
Atlanta drained time off the clock before Marvin Williams missed a three- pointer, and Johnson tipped a long rebound back out to Crawford at the point. The fortuitous bounce forced Orlando to foul Crawford, and he made two free throws with 8.2 seconds remaining.
After the inbound, Howard set a pick to clear out space on the right wing for J.J. Redick. But the Magic sharpshooter was long on a wide-open three.
Orlando got another chance to tie after Atlanta's Al Horford grabbed the rebound and stepped out of bounds. However, Smith swatted Jason Richardson's hasty three-point try as time ran out.
Atlanta won despite shooting 39 percent overall, and were up 42-36 at the break despite making only 35 percent of its field goals in the first half.
The Hawks were ahead because of defense. They limited Orlando to two second- chance points and 14 made field goals in the opening two quarters.
Atlanta led throughout the third and carried a 62-55 advantage into the fourth. Crawford made a pair of threes early in the quarter to help the Hawks build a 71-59 advantage.
Atlanta held a 38-31 rebounding advantage...Horford had 10 points, 12 boards and six assists for the Hawks...Hedo Turkoglu had 15 points for the Magic, while Nelson scored 11 with six assists.
04/29 00:10:50 ET