Crawford's late 3-pointer lifts Hawks


ATLANTA --- In a game that turned close and testy in the final minutes, Jamal Crawford finished off Orlando with an improbable 3-pointer.


Crawford banked in the long-range shot from the top of the key with 5.7 seconds left to cap a brilliant second half, leading the Atlanta Hawks to an 88-84 victory over the Magic on Friday night and a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference playoff series.

The Hawks led most of the game, but it came right down to the wire -- marred by an altercation that led to the ejection of one player from each team.

Atlanta's Zaza Pachulia and Orlando's Jason Richardson were both tossed with 2:22 remaining after a confrontation under the basket. The teams swapped the lead four times after that near-brawl until Al Horford put the Hawks ahead for good with 46.6 seconds remaining.

But Crawford, who scored 18 of his 23 points after halftime, hit the biggest shot of all. With the shot clock winding down, he put up a jumper over Jameer Nelson that struck high on the backboard and went in.

The physical game turned ugly when Dwight Howard drove the lane and was hammered by Pachulia, who guarded Orlando's big man after Jason Collins went out with a back injury in the first half.

Howard swung a forearm, Pachulia flung an elbow, then Richardson charged into Pachulia's face. As they jawed, Pachulia appeared to deliver at least one headbutt to Richardson, who responded by slapping Pachulia in the jaw with his left hand.

After looking at replays to sort things out, the officials ejected both Pachulia and Richardson and gave Howard a technical. Pachulia, with two long scratches on his upper right arm, was given a standing ovation on his way to the locker room.

Richardson was pulled away by Howard, but too late to keep him in the game.

The Hawks got off to a quick start, spurred on by a rare sellout crowd of 19,865 dressed mostly in white -- a "Dwight-out," the team called it, hoping to rattle the Atlanta native.

At a glance


Game 1: Atlanta 103, Orlando 93

Game 2: Orlando 88, Atlanta 82

Game 3: Atlanta 88, Orlando 84

Sunday: Orlando at Atlanta, 7 p.m.

Tuesday: Atlanta at Orlando, TBA

x-Thursday: Orlando at Atlanta, TBA

x-April 30: Atlanta at Orlando, TBA

x-if necessary



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