Magic beat Hawks to keep slim playoff hopes alive
Orlando, FL (Sports Network) – Dwight Howard posted 20 points and 16 rebounds
to lead Orlando to a 105-88 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
Howard also recorded a career-best six assists in the effort, as the Magic
posted their 10th straight win at home and their fifth overall to keep their
slim playoff hopes alive. The Magic, who have five games remaining, are three
games behind Philadelphia for eighth place in the Eastern Conference, but
Chicago is also ahead of Orlando.
“The playoffs are the last thing on our mind right now,” Howard said. “We just
want to come out, play every night and give 100 percent for out fans and just
Jameer Nelson chipped in 17 points and six assists, Hedo Turkoglu had 16
points, and DeShawn Stevenson contributed 14 points. Darko Milicic came off
the bench to match a season-high with 13 points and Keyon Dooling tallied 10
in a reserve role as well.
“Every game is big for us. We got to take it one game at a time, leave the
playoff talk out of it,” Nelson said.
The Hawks, now 29 games under .500, were paced by Al Harrington with 19 points
to go along with eight rebounds, followed by Josh Childress with 13 points.
Joe Johnson and Tyronn Lue both contributed 12 points, Marvin Williams had 11
and Esteban Batista scored 10 and had a team-high 10 boards in the setback.
Orlando jumped out to a 6-2 lead early in the first half on a pair of free
throws by Howard, but the squad also went almost four minutes without a made
field goal, allowing the Hawks to move ahead and eventually claim a 26-21 edge
at the end of one.
Following a timeout with 5:16 remaining in the second, Orlando put together an
8-1 run to knot the score at 43 with just under three minutes before the half.
The defense for Orlando then held the visitors scoreless over the final two
minutes of the second, allowing the Magic to post a 52-47 lead at the break.
Atlanta, which has now dropped two straight overall and is a mere 7-32 on the
road this season, put together a quick 9-0 burst in the fourth, cutting its
deficit to 83-78, but the Magic responded with a 16-2 run of their own with
Howard and Stevenson accounting for all but two of those points, as the unit
cruised to the 17-point decision.
Orlando shot 52.6 percent from the field, marking the 10th time in the last 11
games that the team has converted at least half of its field goal attempts.
While tying the season series at two games apiece, the Magic limited the Hawks
to just 2-of-13 shooting from three-point range.
Last season the Hawks won just 13 games, a number not lost on Harrington.
“We just want our goal to be to double our win total from last year,”
Harrington said. “Over these last five games, we have to find a way to win two
or three of them. I think that is our focus right now and to continue to get
better as a team going into next year.”
Stacey Augmon, now in his second year with Orlando, played in the 1,000th game
of his career since being drafted by Atlanta in 1991 out of UNLV…Howard
recorded his 56th double-double of the season…Carlos Arroyo did not play for
the Magic due to a strained left hamstring…Atlanta’s Josh Smith shot just
1-of-7 from the floor…Orlando hasn’t lost at home since February 26 against