ATLANTA, Georgia, April 29 – One year after the Orlando Magic inflicted the most lopsided four-game playoff sweep in NBA history on Atlanta in the second round, a much-improved Hawks squad took a measure of revenge.
Joe Johnson scored 23 points and Jamal Crawford added 19 to power Atlanta past Orlando 84-81 in an NBA playoff game Thursday, advancing the Hawks to a second-round series with the Chicago Bulls.
"When you lose to a team by an average of 25 points a game, you are looking for redemption," Crawford said. "What better redemption than to play them again.
"We were up to the challenge."
The Hawks eliminated the Magic four games to two in their Eastern Conference best-of-seven first round series, advancing to round two for the third year in a row while the Magic suffered its earliest playoff exit since 2007.
The other East second-round series will send the Miami Heat against the Boston Celtics. That winner will face Atlanta or Chicago for a berth in the NBA Finals.
"They never give us a chance," Atlanta’s Josh Smith said. "They never talk about the Hawks. They talk about Orlando, Chicago, Boston and Miami. We’re always sneaking under the radar."
Kirk Hinrich added 11 points while Al Horford had 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Hawks, who led 82-77 before Jameer Nelson sank back-to-back layups that pulled Orlando within a point with 34 seconds remaining.
Atlanta’s Marvin Williams missed a late 3-point shot but Johnson batted the rebound to Crawford, who sank two free throws with 8.2 seconds remaining.
"I just wanted to make a play," Johnson said. "I just crashed the glass and tried to somehow get a hand on it. I did."
J.J. Redick missed a tying 3-point attempt, Smith blocked a 3-point try by Jason Richardson at the buzzer and the Magic were finished.
"The biggest thing was the rebounding," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "It was sort of fitting we couldn’t get a rebound on the last stop."
Hinrich suffered an injury and was carried to the locker room in the final minutes with what Hawks officials said was a strained right hamstring.
Dwight Howard scored a game-high 25 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for Orlando while Hedo Turkoglu added 15 for the Magic.