for this game

Johnson, Hawks continue to dominate struggling Magic

Jan 30, 2007 - 4:23 AM ATLANTA (Ticker) -- The free-falling Orlando Magic are sick of Joe Johnson and the Atlanta Hawks.

Johnson scored 34 points and Josh Smith added 19 and 11 rebounds as the Hawks used stellar defense en route to a 93-83 victory over the struggling Magic for the second time in four days.

Winners of three of its four games with Orlando this season, Atlanta defeated the Magic, 93-90, on Friday before riding its star guard to yet another win over its division foe just three days later.

"(Johnson) starts us off and he kind of ends it," Smith said. "When he's having a good game, everyone's having a good game. We feed off his energy. Everybody was able to knock down shots and help him out when he got double-teamed.

"I guess we just turned up the intensity when we play them. We play everybody in our conference well. We just happen to get wins over Orlando."

A dynamic scorer, Johnson netted a season-high 39 points in Friday's contest and led the way once again with his soft jumper and innate scoring ability on Monday. Using a fadeaway jumper off the dribble that was practically unguardable, Johnson shot 12-of-24 from the field, including 4-of-12 from the arc.

"It's good. It's even better we got a win," Johnson said. "We're going to need this effort every night. Everybody played a great game. We all played a great game. I'm just taking what the defense gives me. I'm coming out and playing ball."

Johnson's torrid play has kept the Magic reeling. One of the top teams in the East over the first two months of the season, Orlando has dropped eight of its last nine games to fall to seventh place in the conference standings.

"I didn't like our pace (Tuesday) in shootaround," Magic coach Brian Hill said. "I thought we were very sluggish and it carried over to the game. This is something we have to correct. When you lose eight out of nine, you're never in a good place. We just need continue working hard and try to stay together as a team."

Hawks coach Mike Woodson is proud of his team but still believes the Magic can make some noise in the Eastern Conference.

"(Orlando) is still one of the best teams in the East," Woodson said. "For us, we've had some great games against the Magic. That's nice to see."

A native of the Atlanta area, Magic star forward Dwight Howard has struggled against his hometown team this season, averaging just 13.7 points and 7.7 rebounds in three games against the Hawks entering Monday's contest.

"This was a bad game. They hit shots, we didn't. They played hard, we didn't," Howard said. "That's what it boiled down to. We just didn't come with the effort tonight. We came out and didn't play like we should have played."

Orlando's leading scorer (17.1) and rebounder (12.3), Howard was not sharp on Monday, collecting 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Magic, who shot just 38 percent (20-of-53).

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