The second Eastern Conference Semi-Final matchup was decided on Thursday night as the Atlanta Hawks defeated the Orlando Magic at Phillips Arena by a final score of 84-81. The victory clinched the first round series for the Hawks as they won the best of seven series four games to two. Joe Johnson racked up a double-double with 23 points while Jamal Crawford came off the bench knocking down 19 points.
Dwight Howard also recorded a double-double including a game high 25 points but got far too little help from the rest of his team to stay alive for yet another day. The early exit from the Post Season is not a usual occurrence for the team from Orlando and it will be interesting to see what changes if any the franchise will make during the off-season.
Center Al Horford would knock down a mid-range shot with 43 seconds to play in the first and Atlanta would hold the upper hand with the score 23-18 at the conclusion of the quarter. The Hawks would lead by double digits for a good portion of the second but Orlando would cut their deficit by the end of the period. Atlanta would have the advantage when the two teams headed to their locker rooms as the contest reached the half on top 42-36.
Atlanta would zoom further ahead early in the third but the Magic came storming back as Hedo Turkoglu buried a 24 foot trey with 4:24 on the clock cutting the Atlanta lead to 50-49. But Atlanta would get momentum back on their side down the stretch and would lead 62-55 at the end of the quarter. Orlando would get as close as one point down with 34 seconds left in the contest as Jameer Nelson drove the lane putting the ball up and in the cylinder and making it an 82-81 affair. But those would be the last points the Magic would score for the season as the Hawks held on to win the game and the series.
Johnson scored 23 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and had 4 assists in the victory for Atlanta. Crawford put up 19 points, 2 steals, 1 assist and 1 rebound while Kirk Hinrich added 11 points, 3 steals, 2 assists and a rebound. Horford had a double-double with 10 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists and a block while Marvin Williams chipped in 10 points, 3 rebounds and an assist.
D-Howard had 25 points, 15 boards, 3 blocks, 2 assists and a steal. Turkoglu scored 15 points, 4 assists, 3 steals and a rebound while Nelson added 11 points, 6 assists and 3 steals. Atlanta will next meet the Chicago Bulls in the Conference Semi-Finals.