ORLANDO, May 7- Orlando center Dwight Howard shrugged off a bloody nose to score 29 points with 17 rebounds Thursday as the Magic downed the Atlanta Hawks 112-98 in the NBA Eastern Conference playoffs.The victory gave Orlando a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven second-round series and left the Hawks hoping they can reverse their fortunes when the series shifts to Atlanta for game three on Saturday.
"Go home and win. We’ve been pretty good on our floor," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said of the task facing his team.
"They took care of their business on their home floor. We’re going to see what we’re made of."
Vince Carter had 24 points and Rashard Lewis finished with 20 as he keyed Orlando’s 19-2 scoring run in the fourth quarter.
Al Horford led Atlanta with 24 points, and Joe Johnson had 19 as Atlanta avoided an embarrassment like their 43-point defeat in the series opener.
That was the most lopsided playoff defeat in Hawks history.
The Hawks led early on Thursday, but showed little sign in the later going that they have figured out a way to stop Orlando’s 12-game winning streak.
Howard, known as an indifferent free-throw shooter, made 13 of 18 from the line.
"Every time I step up there, just believing it was going in," he said of his success.
He wasn’t able to make the one early in the third quarter that came after he had been inadvertently smacked in the face by Horford while driving for a layup.
With his nostrils plugged he missed, then departed for a couple of minutes to have the bleeding attended to.
"I think he held his composure well," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "He took some hard hits on the offensive end of the floor, that has led to some frustration and at times retaliation on his part.
"He got hit damn hard tonight, blows that would have dropped a lot of people, certainly me."
The play launched an 11-2 scoring run that wiped out Atlanta’s early nine-point lead.
Jameer Nelson made a three-pointer as time expired in the third period, a morale-sapping blow after Jamal Crawford had made a three-pointer for Atlanta.
"That was a huge momentum boost for us," Van Gundy said.
A spate of three-pointers stretched the lead for Orlando, who are trying to reach the conference finals for the second straight year.
Carter, Lewis, Nelson and Mickael Pietrus all made shots from three-point range in the fourth.
"We didn’t play our best basketball in the first half but we were still within arm’s reach," Carter said. "In the second half we played like the Orlando Magic."