Play Fantasy The Most Award Winning Fantasy game with real time scoring, top expert analysis, custom settings, and more. Play Now

Orlando at Atlanta

Hawks hang on, win season series against Magic

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

ATLANTA -- Dwight Howard kept trying to muscle his way into the lane.

Jason Collins wouldn't back down, providing hope that Atlanta will fare a lot better if the Hawks get their expected rematch with Orlando in the playoffs.

More on Magic at Hawks
Related links
Video

Joe Johnson's floating one-hander in the lane put Atlanta ahead with 55.4 seconds remaining, Jameer Nelson missed two chances to tie it for the Magic, and the Hawks escaped with an 85-82 victory Wednesday night.

Josh Smith led the Hawks with 26 points, and Johnson added 18. But a guy who had only three points and five rebounds might have done the best work of the night.

Collins went body-to-body with Howard in a bruising matchup, helping limit the Orlando star to 17 points on 4-of-13 shooting.

"I was just trying to play physical with him," Collins said. "I try to eye him up when he crosses halfcourt. I want to meet him early, before he gets close to the basket."

Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy was impressed.

"That's the best defense I've seen all year on Dwight," Van Gundy said. "Against Collins, he didn't get a lot of good shots. I thought he did a great job on him. He's big and physical. He doesn't give you anything easy. Dwight had trouble getting good, on-balance shots."

Nelson, who paced Orlando with 20 points, missed a jumper with 38 seconds remaining, then clanked one off the side of the rim on a drive with 6 seconds left.

Collins grabbed the rebound and was immediately fouled. He missed the first but swished the second, forcing the Magic to look for a 3 on their final possession. The best they could do was a long, turnaround jumper by Hedo Turkoglu that sailed over the rim.

The Hawks won their third in a row and took the season series 3-1, distancing themselves from a dismal stretch in which they lost 14 of 21 games.

They'll likely face Orlando again in a couple of weeks. The Magic seem assured of the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference, while the Hawks are headed for the fifth seed.

Last year, the teams met in the second round of the postseason, which turned into a monumental mismatch. Orlando won four straight by an average margin of 25 points -- the most lopsided sweep in NBA history.

Eastern Conference
SeedTeamGB
1x-Atlanta-
2x-Boston-
3x-Brooklyn-
4x-Chicago-
5o-Charlotte-
6o-Cleveland-
7o-Detroit-
8y-Indiana-
Still alive
9z-Miami-
10x-Milwaukee-
11y-New York-
Eliminated
12o-Orlando-
13o-Philadelphia-
14o-Toronto-
15o-Washington-
Complete Playoff Race >>

With that in mind, the Hawks wanted to show they could be more competitive with the Magic this time around. They sure did it during the regular season, holding the Magic to 38 percent shooting in the four games.

"It's the regular season. The postseason is totally different," Smith said. "I don't know if we're sending a message, but we've got to let teams know we're coming to play."

Turkoglu also scored 17 for the Magic, who were off their game after Howard picked up two fouls in the first four minutes.

"Things are definitely hard for us when Dwight gets in foul trouble," Nelson said. "He's who we are. We play through him. Offensive and defensively, he's our guy."

Howard picked up his fourth foul with over 8 minutes remaining in the third quarter, whistled for knocking down Smith going for a rebound. The big man didn't come out of the game immediately, and the Hawks felt he should have been called for his fifth foul less than a minute later.

Howard backed into the lane looking for a pass, smashing a shoulder into Collins' chest to gain position right under the basket. Nothing was called, the ball arrived and Collins had no choice but to wrap up Howard with a partial bear hug. He then turned to the officials with a look of disgust, while Hawks coach Larry Drew sprung off the bench.

"You can't let him do that," Drew screamed.

But the Hawks ended the period on a high. Jamal Crawford saved an errant pass and Zaza Pachulia hit a turnaround jumper just ahead of the buzzer after pulling down an offensive rebound. Pachulia chest-bumped Smith as he bounced off the court, having given Atlanta a 69-61 lead.

Drew hopes his up-and-down team -- the Hawks already have more 20-point losses than any winning team in NBA history -- is finding itself at just the right time. This is Atlanta's first three-game winning streak since Feb. 2-5.

"I feel real good about the direction we're going," he said. "March has not been good to us. But we seem to have weathered the storm."

Notes

  • Magic F Quentin Richardson missed his third consecutive game with back spasms.
  • The Magic have talked about bringing in another point guard if Chris Duhon's ailing right thumb continues to be a problem. He didn't even suit up in Atlanta, and the Magic also have been hampered in practice because of limited numbers. "It's frustrating for me," Van Gundy said. "We're just not getting anything done.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
Josh Smith, shown rejecting a Dwight Howard shot in the second half, helps hold Howard to 17 points on 4-of-13 shooting.  (US Presswire)
Josh Smith, shown rejecting a Dwight Howard shot in the second half, helps hold Howard to 17 points on 4-of-13 shooting. (US Presswire)

Scoreboard
Orlando (47-28)2518182182
Atlanta (43-32) «2719231685
ORL:J. Nelson 20 Pts
ORL:D. Howard 13 Reb
ORL:H. Turkoglu 5 Ast
ATL:J. Smith 26 Pts
ATL:A. Horford 9 Reb
ATL:K. Hinrich 5 Ast
Players of the Game
OrlandoAtlanta

Dwight Howard

Josh Smith
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
171302664
Orlando
J. Richardson, SG421-71-23433
H. Turkoglu, SF397-111-285117
J. Nelson, PG379-170-035320
D. Howard, C334-139-15130517
B. Bass, PF336-100-040212
R. Anderson, PF295-150-033413
G. Arenas, PG200-20-01300
E. Clark, SF60-10-22000
M. Allen, PF10-10-00000
Q. Richardson, SGDid Not Play
C. Duhon, PGDid Not Play
J. Redick, SGDid Not Play
D. Orton, CDid Not Play
Totals 32-7711-2137201882
 41.6%52.4% 
Atlanta
A. Horford, C454-83-495111
J. Johnson, SG447-154-462218
J. Smith, SF4010-183-364426
K. Hinrich, PG312-90-01525
J. Collins, C181-21-25043
J. Crawford, SG223-80-01417
M. Williams, PF204-61-161210
Z. Pachulia, C152-31-17025
J. Teague, PG30-10-00010
E. Thomas, C20-00-01000
J. Powell, PFDid Not Play
D. Wilkins, SGDid Not Play
H. Armstrong, CDid Not Play
P. Sy, SFDid Not Play
Totals 33-7013-1542211985
 47.1%86.7% 
Other Games
Det 101 Final
Ind 111
Hou 97 Final
Phi 108
Mia 123 Final
Wash 107
Mil 104 Final
Tor 98
Cle 97 Final
Char 98
NJ 116 Final
NY 120
Port 91 Final
NO 95
Chi 108 Final
Min 91
GS 91 Final
Mem 110
Sac 90 Final
Den 104
OKC 116 Final
Pho 98
Dal 106 Final
LAC 100