NBA Game Summary - Orlando at Atlanta
(Wednesday, March 30th)
Final Score: Atlanta 85, Orlando 82
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Josh Smith shined in what amounted to a playoff preview, scoring 26 points and grabbing six rebounds, as Atlanta staved off a late rally to edge Orlando, 85-82.
Joe Johnson donated 18 points with six boards, Al Horford was a rebound short of a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds and Marvin Williams added 10 points for the Hawks, winners in three straight. The Hawks are settled in as the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference with a likely first-round matchup against these very Magic, who dropped their second in a row after a five-game winning streak.
The Hawks took three-of-four from Orlando, winning the season series for the first time since the 2006-2007 campaign.
"The regular season really doesn't matter. It's just about finishing these games out strong and having that momentum going into the playoffs," said Smith.
Jameer Nelson led Orlando with 20 points and five assists, Dwight Howard finished with his customary double-double, posting 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Hedo Turkoglu collected 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists in defeat.
"You watched the game today, I mean they are better than us right now. That is the bottom line," said Orlando head coach Stan Van Gundy. "I go by things like that. It doesn't mean they will be in the playoffs. I don't think we are afraid to play them."
A bucket from Jamal Crawford and a three-point play by Smith increased the lead to 80-72 with just under six minutes to go in the fourth, but Howard scored six straight moments later to draw the visitors within a bucket at 82-80.
Nelson made a driving layup to tie the game, but Johnson answered with 55.4 seconds to go. The point guard pulled up and misfired on the next possession, but the Magic forced Johnson to his left and he barely grazed iron on his attempt. After a timeout, the Magic again called Nelson's number, but he couldn't connect from just in front of the charity stripe.
Jason Collins was fouled with 5.7 seconds to go and made 1-of-2, keeping the door open for the Magic. Orlando couldn't take advantage, as Turkoglu missed a game-tying attempt at the buzzer. The Magic made 3-of-10 three-pointers in the fourth quarter.
A nip-and-tuck opening 12 minutes befitting of these two playoff clubs' efficiency finished with the Hawks in front, 27-25, thanks to a Williams three-pointer with 1.6 ticks to go. Orlando came out strong in the second stanza, scoring nine of the first 11 points capped by two Howard free throws for a 34-29 advantage.
Atlanta steadied itself, rattling off the next six points, and stayed in front as Smith heated up, scoring the Hawks' final 11 points over the last 5 1/2 minutes. He took the basketball strong to the rim with two slams, connected on a long ball, calmly sank two free throws and added to the degree of difficulty with a contested fall away jumper, opening Atlanta's halftime margin, 46-43.
Smith scored 17 points overall, while Turkoglu paced the Magic with 11.
Orlando tied the game at 48 before Smith answered the bell once again, draining a three-pointer almost on cue. Kirk Hinrich's trey broke an all- square contest and Smith followed with another long ball to open a 63-57 lead. That six-point margin stood until Zaza Pachulia's jumper at the buzzer gave the home team a 69-61 advantage.
Orlando got back into the game with just one second-half turnover...Brandon Bass finished with 12 points and four rebounds, while Ryan Anderson added 13 points off the bench for the Magic...Crawford added seven points for the Hawks...The Magic were without Chris Duhon (right thumb) and JJ Redick (lower adominal strain).
03/30 22:58:21 ET