103 - 93 Final
  for this game

Hawks overcome Howard, down Magic in series opener

Apr 17, 2011 - 2:42 AM Orlando, FL (Sports Network) - Joe Johnson had 25 points and the Atlanta Hawks overcame Dwight Howard's 46-point night to beat the Orlando Magic, 103-93, in the opener of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.

The Hawks, who were swept by Orlando in the conference semifinals last season and had lost their final six games to end this regular season, also received 23 points from Jamal Crawford.

Al Horford posted 16 points, Josh Smith 15 and Kirk Hinrich 13 for Atlanta, which posted just its third playoff road win in its last 22 such contests.

Howard tied an Orlando franchise playoff record for points in a game and also had 19 rebounds. Jameer Nelson scored 27 points, but the Magic got little help elsewhere.

Game 2 is Tuesday night, again at Amway Center.

Howard had 31 points and eight rebounds through the first two quarters, but his team trailed, 55-48, at the break.

"I knew he would come out aggressive, I knew he would come out in attack mode," Hawks coach Larry Drew said. "He had a heck of a first half. We made a decision to stay head up on him in the second half."

Nelson then hit four three-point shots and scored a franchise playoff record 20 points during the third quarter, but the Magic didn't clamp down defensively. Atlanta went 10-of-15 from the field in the period with Johnson scoring 10 in the stanza.

"We had no answer at all in terms of stopping them," Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We really couldn't play anything they did. Their perimeter guys particularly hurt us. We didn't have any defensive answers."

Smith's three-pointer started an 11-0 Hawks run. He scored seven during the spurt, including two free throws that capped the burst for a 68-53 difference with 6:48 left in the quarter.

With 5:37 left in the quarter, tempers started to boil over. Zaza Pachulia positioned himself for an offensive rebound after a miss from Horford. Howard, who was behind Pachulia, was the recipient of a small shove during the play. After securing the rebound and going up for the put-back, Pachulia was pulled down to the floor by Howard, who immediately picked up his fourth personal foul and a technical. Joe Johnson sank the technical foul shot and Pachulia two more from the charity stripe for a dominating 71-54 advantage.

Atlanta held an 85-71 cushion going to the fourth and Howard picked up foul No. 5 with 10:58 remaining.

Orlando finally cut the margin to single digits when Nelson sank two foul shots for a 92-83 difference with 4:40 remaining.

The Magic could only get as close as eight, though, when Howard's layup moved the score to 98-90 with 2:01 to go. Crawford then sealed the outcome by drilling a three-pointer from the right corner.

J.J. Redick made his return for the Magic after a 17-game absence due to a lower abdominal strain. He had four points in 18 minutes of playing time.

Redick entered the contest with 57.3 seconds left in the first quarter. He scored on a fast-break layup moments later to give the Magic a 16-15 lead. They led 19-17 after the opening quarter.

It was a back-and-forth affair for most of the second, but Atlanta started to take control late in the period. Johnson's pull-up jumper capped seven in a row for the Hawks for a 47-41 lead with 3:15 left.

Game Notes

Atlanta won the season series, 3-1, taking the season set from the Magic for the first time since 2006-07...The Hawks dropped the first contest, but came back to win the next three by an average of 6.3 points per game...This was just the second win for Atlanta over Orlando in the playoffs in 10 all-time meetings...Howard accounted for eight of his team's 18 turnovers. That led to 21 Atlanta points.