NBA Game Summary - Atlanta at Orlando
(Wednesday, October 29th)
Final Score: Atlanta 99, Orlando 85
Orlando, FL (Sports Network) - Joe Johnson scored 25 points to go with seven rebounds, as the Atlanta Hawks got past the Orlando Magic, 99-85, in both clubs' season opener.
Josh Smith finished with 17 points, 10 boards and four steals for the Hawks, who are coming off a season in which they made the playoffs and took the eventual world champion Boston Celtics to a seventh game in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals before losing.
Al Horford added 10 points and nine rebounds for Atlanta, while Ronald Murray chipped in 14 points off the bench.
"We have so many weapons," Johnson said. "We are a pretty good team and we just have to believe that. We have to play with confidence night in and night out."
Dwight Howard had 22 points and 15 rebounds for Orlando, which last season went 52-30 to win its first division crown since the strike-shortened 1998-99 season. Orlando then doused Toronto in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs before succumbing to Detroit in five games in the semifinals.
"I don't think it's frustrating for us. I just think it's eye-opening for us," Howard said. "You can't take anything for granted; you can't take any team for granted. We really have to stay focused and humble. We have to do it as a team to get better. The Hawks are a great, young, athletic team. Every shot tonight was contested; every shot was tough for us. We have to find ways to play through all this stuff."
Mickael Pietrus, an offseason addition from Golden State, scored 20 in the loss but made just 2-of-7 three-pointers. After the Magic made at least five three-pointers in each of their 82 regular season games last season, they went just 4-for-25 on Wednesday.
Atlanta dominated the first quarter, going on a 14-0 run in the middle of it to start pulling away. Smith's jumper started the surge, and later Mike Bibby drained a pair of shots. Maurice Evans dunked with about 1 1/2 minutes left to make it a 23-8 contest, and the Hawks led 26-13 heading into the second.
The Magic drew within four points when back-to-back baskets from Johnson and Pietrus made it 33-29 halfway through the second. But Atlanta countered with nine straight points, capped by a Murray layup that handed the Hawks a 42-29 edge.
But Orlando rallied to get its deficit under 10 at halftime, as a layup from Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis jumper made it 47-40.
A three from Evans restored Atlanta's 10-point lead almost four minutes into the third quarter, and the Hawks slowly stretched the advantage. A seven-point run later in the stanza -- a Zaza Pachulia layup, a three from Smith, and two Murray free throws -- ballooned the lead to 70-51 with just 2:31 remaining.
The Hawks held a 74-55 advantage headed into the fourth, but Orlando climbed back into the contest on the strength of a 15-5 run. Howard powered the stretch with eight points, the last of which were two free throws to bring the Magic within 79-70 just 4 1/2 minutes into the frame.
Though Orlando remained within striking distance the rest of the way, it never got closer than six points -- when a Turkoglu three made it 81-75 with 6:22 on the clock.
Smith responded with a jumper, and Atlanta held on the rest of the way.
The teams split four games last season, and split two games in Orlando...Each team had 15 turnovers...Bibby finished with 12 points...Lewis had 11 points, while Turkoglu added 13 and eight rebounds.
10/30 00:34:12 ET