Evans' 27 points carries Magic past HawksApr 16, 2008 - 3:20 AM By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
ATLANTA (Ticker) - Maurice Evans scored a career-high 27 points to lead six others in double figures as the Orlando Magic posted a 121-105 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday.
Hedo Turkoglu scored 17 points and Dwight Howard registered his 69th double-double of the season with 15 and 13 rebounds for the Magic, which snapped a six-game losing streak at Philips Arena.
"This was an important win for us because we're trying to build momentum for the playoffs," Evans said. "I was just trying to play hard out there. Fortunately, my shots started falling."
The Hawks, who led by as many as six in the second half, held a 65-63 lead with 9:25 remaining in the third quarter before the Magic rallied for good behind a 19-5 surge, which was capped by Evans' 3-pointer with 3:01 left.
Third-seeded Orlando secured its first Southeast Division crown weeks ago and will face the sixth-seeded Toronto Raptors (41-40) in the first round of the playoffs.
"I think we finished the game strong very strong and built some good momentum going into the playoffs," Magic guard J.J. Reddick said. "You want to be playing your best basketball when the postseason starts. We want to have a lot of momentum going in."
Atlanta, which clinched its first playoff spot this side of the millenium after the Pacers lost to the Wizards on Tuesday, had the luxury to rest its starters for extended periods in this one.
The Hawks' reserves were mainly relegated to role of spectators by coach Mike Woodson for most part of the season, but excelled when called upon in the second.
Salim Stoudamire netted eight of his 16 points and Josh Childress added five during a 19-6 burst to give the Hawks a brief lead. The 6-1 Stoudamire also capped the run, draining his second 3-pointer to give the Hawks a 39-36 lead with 7:29 to go.
"I thought our bench played extremely well," Woodson said. "I thought our bench came in and gave us a great lift. Some of those guys hadn't played in a while. It was nice to see them really execute on the offensive end and try to get after it defensively."
Marvin Williams scored 16 points and Childress chipped in 15 for Atlanta, which despite the blowout is headed back to the playoffs for the first time in nine years.
"Man, you have no idea (how different it feels)," Childress said. "It's a great feeling."
"It feels good to be on a team starting a new era," Hawks forward Josh Smith said. "Me and Childress have been here when we won 13 games our rookie season. We got better every year. This year tops it off because we did something special."
However, Atlanta's (37-44) first trip back to the postseason will not be easy with top-seeded Boston (65-16) waiting in the wings.
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