Hawks move up to .500 with win over MagicDec 11, 2007 - 5:10 AM ORLANDO, Florida (Ticker) -- This time, Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic did not have to worry about any lead.
Howard had 14 points and 18 rebounds but the Atlanta Hawks led nearly throughout en route to a 98-87 victory over Orlando on Monday.
Josh Smith had 25 points and 16 rebounds and Joe Johnson scored 24 for Atlanta (10-10), which won its third straight game and captured its 10th victory prior to January for the first time since 2001-02.
"This win is real big," Smith said. "Just for us to get to .500. I have been on this team since day one when we won 13 games. This is a big win for us especially since they are in our division. They are a division rival and we came up big."
During the winning streak, the Hawks have not allowed any of their opponents to score more than 89 points.
"Our guys are starting to take pride in doing that (defending) and keeping us in ball games and our offense wasn't too bad tonight," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said.
Meanwhile, the Magic (16-6) absorbed their second straight defeat, coming on the heels of a 115-109 loss to Indiana here on Friday in which they coughed up a 15-point lead in the third quarter.
With the latest loss, Orlando dropped to 5-4 at the Amway Arena, a far cry from its 11-2 mark on the road.
"I guess what I am supposed to do is sit up here and talk about everything we did wrong and we did make some mistakes," Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. "I actually thought that a lot of it was (the Hawks). I felt they really kicked our butts."
One reason for the Magic's struggles after a 4-1 road swing on the West Coast has been turnovers. After committing 23 turnovers against the Pacers, they had another 19 against just eight for the Hawks.
"Our turnovers are becoming a major problem again," Van Gundy said. "I obviously said to our team that we have been through that before here and I think we're averaging 19 a game which is what we had tonight and the last five games. We are going to have to find some guys who can take care of the ball against good defensive people because we are struggling in that area and that is something we have to change."
After Howard opened the scoring with a basket in the lane, Atlanta took control, registering seven of the next nine points. A dunk by Marvin Williams gave the Hawks a 16-10 advantage with 4:01 left in the first quarter.
That lead grew to 29-19 as Johnson hit a jumper at the end of the first, and was 59-44 after a 12-foot jumper by Williams just over three minutes into the third.
"When they came out at the beginning, they set the tone," said Orlando forward Rashard Lewis, who scored 15 points. "We couldn't set the tone on the offensive end, we played alright on defense, but could never get anything going on offense and never really played together."
Orlando did make a push towards the end of the third, closing within 67-63 after Keith Bogans hit the second of consecutive 3-pointers for the Magic with 1:20 left to cap a 12-2 run.
However, Orlando had another untimely turnover when Howard inadvertently threw away an outlet pass when Carlos Arroyo fell trying to get out to the left sideline. Smith, who missed a preceding jump hook, picked up the loose ball and found Johnson in the lane for a layup and a 69-63 lead with 35 seconds left.
The Magic tried again in the fourth, moving within 75-72 on a shot from the arc by Keyon Dooling with 7:26 remaining.
Williams and Johnson both made a pair of free throws next two minutes and Smith knocked down a 20-foot jumper to rebuild the lead to 81-72 with 5:16 to play.
Orlando could get no closer as Atlanta keyed in on Howard, limiting him to three points - all on free throws - in the final quarter.
Overall, Howard took just seven shots in being held under 15 points for just the third time this season.
"We just wanted to do a big job against him," Smith said. "We all know that when he gets it going, so does his team. We wanted to try and neutralize him.
"Lorenzen Wright did a great job on him. Al Horford did a good job on him. We just collapsed on him and gave him different looks, left him alone, and really frustrated him a lot."
Anthony Johnson had 15 points and Marvin Williams and Shelden Williams had 12 each for the Hawks, who shot 43 percent (35-of-82) and had 29 points off turnovers.
Hedo Turkoglu scored 22 points and Bogans 12 for the Magic, who lost to the Hawks for the fourth time in the five meetings since the start of last season.
ORLANDO 87 FINAL
Dec 10 9:43 PM
ORLANDO 63 END, 3RD QTR
Dec 10 9:00 PM
ORLANDO 41 HALFTIME
Dec 10 8:10 PM
ORLANDO 19 END, 1ST QTR
Dec 10 7:38 PM
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