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Johnson leads Hawks past turnover-prone Magic

Nov 5, 2006 - 10:13 PM ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Joe Johnson won the personal battle between his Team USA teammate. More importantly, the Atlanta Hawks reached a milestone that they hope is a precursor of things to come.

Johnson scored 31 points, including 18 in the second half, as the Atlanta Hawks posted a 95-82 victory over the Orlando Magic.

Zaza Pachulia added 17 points and Josh Smith had 11 and 11 rebounds for Atlanta, which has won two of its first three games - the first time the Hawks have been over .500 since November 20, 2002 when they were 6-5.

"It's a great feeling to be over .500," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "You've got to tip your hat to the guys in the locker room because they are committed to playing on both ends."

"It's very important for us to get that momentum with this start," Hawks center Lorenzen Wright said. "The season goes in phases and the start of the year is even more important for a young team."

Johnson had 30 points and eight assists in Atlanta's home-opening win vs. New York on Friday. He shot 11-of-19 from the field in this victory as the Hawks won their fourth straight at home against the Magic.

"It feels good to get off to a good start," Johnson said. "We have to keep working hard. We certainly can't ever be satisfied. We have to keep our goals in front of us."

"Joe is Joe," Woodson said. "He's special. You're going to see a lot more of that from Joe. He's come back from being on the Olympic team a different player. He wants to win."

Johnson's summer teammate at the World Championships, budding superstar Dwight Howard had a game to forget for Orlando. He had just 11 points and eight rebounds while committing five turnovers and five personal fouls in 25 minutes.

"He (Howard) got in foul trouble," said Brian Hill. "I don't think it's necessarily anything that Atlanta did. It just wasn't a good game for him."

The No. 1 overall pick in 2004 also received a technical foul near the end of the contest and was promptly removed by coach Brian Hill.

"You try not to get frustrated with the referees and just try to keep working and play hard, but we kind of got away from that today," Howard said. "Our energy level wasn't what we needed to be today, so that's the reason we lost today."

Reserve guard Carlos Arroyo was the lone bright spot for Orlando, scoring 22 points on 9-of-9 shooting. Grant Hill added 14 for Orlando, which shot 42 percent (31-of-74).

The Magic, who never led in the game, were down 22-11 at the end of the first quarter, 46-35 at halftime and 66-57 at the beginning of the final period.

"We're not giving ourselves a chance to win the game when we start off slowly," Arroyo said. "We don't start the games with intensity."

Orlando which committed 23 turnovers in each of their first two games, turned the ball over 21 times vs Atlanta.

"It's very disappointing the effort we came out here with from the beginning of the game," said Brian Hill. "I'm extremely disappointed with everybody's effort, with the exception of Grant Hill."

When our second unit entered the game, we picked it up a little bit, but you can't start games like that and you can't turn it over 21 times."

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