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News » Orlando holds on, beats Atlanta

Orlando holds on, beats Atlanta

Orlando holds on, beats Atlanta
ATLANTA -- The secret of the Orlando Magic's successes this season hasn't been some hard-to-decipher formula.

When the Magic have played good defense and taken good shots, they usually have won.

They did both Wednesday night and it earned them a gutsy 106-102 victory over Atlanta.

Orlando will get one day off before trying to repeat its performance Friday when the Hawks come to Amway Arena.

Orlando reversed just about every statistic that the Hawks used to run them out of their own gym in the Magic's 99-85 season-opening loss.

The Magic shot just 36 percent in October's loss, including a dismal 16 percent effort from the 3-point line. They also allowed Atlanta top scorers Josh Smith and Joe Johnson to turn in strong individual efforts.

Wednesday the coin was flipped. The Magic shot 50 percent from the field (44 from 3-point range), held the rebounding advantage (43-39) and made it tough for Smith and Johnson to get looks early on.

"Coming off a back-to-back against Washington, it's a big win," point guard Jameer Nelson said. "Guys stepped up tonight, including the guys that stepped off the bench. We kept our energy up, which is something Coach challenged us to do."

Atlanta made a run in the fourth quarter and got what was once a 21-point lead all the way down to three in the closing seconds. But the Magic had enough left to hang on.

"The fourth quarter was not a thing of beauty," Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy said with a chuckle afterward. "I think we pushed our starters too much in the second night of a back-to-back. But I'm not going to quibble. This is a very good win against a very good team."

Dwight Howard led six Magic players in double figures with 23 points and 19 rebounds. Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu were next with 20 each. Nelson added 15 and in his second straight start Courtney Lee chipped in 11.

J.J. Redick had the same total to lead the bench. For the Hawks, Smith finished with a team-high 21 to lead five Hawks in double digits. Mike Bibby added 17, but shot just 6-of-17 from the field.

Even with the return of Marvin Williams (16 points), who was serving a one-game suspension in the first matchup this season, the Hawks were stymied and couldn't keep up with the Magic's pace early. They didn't remain dormant, though.

The Magic (28-8) saw their early lead trimmed to seven (93-86) on a jumper by Solomon Jones at the eight-minute mark. Howard scored four quick points -- first on a put-back dunk and then on a short hook -- to get it back up to 97-86 with 6:45 left in the game.

Baskets by Johnson and Smith got it back down to seven at 97-90.

Then after Lee lost the handle on the Magic's next possession, Smith grabbed it and soared in for a dunk to cut it 97-92 with 2:32 remaining.

Atlanta's Al Horford stepped on the baseline to turn it over, leading to a Lewis jumper. Horford redeemed himself on the next trip and completed a three-point play to get the Hawks back to four at 99-95.

Two Lewis free throws briefly gave the Magic some breathing room at 101-95 before Bibby's trip to the stripe got it back to four with 39 seconds left.

Johnson had a chance to cut it to one, but his floater in the lane ended up in Howard's hands. He was fouled and he hit one of two free throws.

A Hawks basket got it to three at 102-99 and the Magic got one of two from the line again, this time from Lewis. Free throws helped provide the final margin.

Van Gundy said he is expecting a renewed Hawks' effort Friday.

"Tonight they missed," Van Gundy said. "I don't anticipate they they'll do that two nights in a row. When they play us Friday, it could be a tough night. I think we were very fortunate tonight."

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: January 10, 2009


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