Hawks seize command

John Bazemore/AP Photo
Atlanta guard Jamal Crawford (center) scored 25 points to lead the Hawks past Orlando in Game 4. Atlanta can win the series on Tuesday.

ATLANTA --- Even on a tough night, the Atlanta Hawks had no doubts about putting the ball in Joe Johnson's hands with the game on the line.


Good plan.

Johnson hit four big free throws in the final 20 seconds and the Hawks finally put away the Orlando Magic, holding on for an 88-85 victory Sunday night and a commanding 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference series.

Jamal Crawford had another big game off the Atlanta bench, scoring 25. He had a shot at a clinching 3-pointer for the second straight game, but threw up an airball with 32 seconds remaining.

It didn't matter.

Johnson calmly stepped to the line and made two free throws with 20.2 seconds remaining, extending a one-point lead. He did it again under the same circumstances with 10.5 seconds left, making everyone forget Atlanta's dismal performance at the line to that point. They finished 12 of 20.

"That's what they get paid for. We rely on Joe and Jamal to get it done in tough situations," Hawks forward Josh Smith said. "They answered the bell again."

Atlanta can wrap up the series in Orlando on Tuesday night. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy doesn't have to look hard to find the reason his team is on the verge of elimination against a team it routed in the playoffs a year ago, wiping out the Hawks with the most lopsided four-game sweep in NBA history.

Orlando is shooting just 40 percent from the field in this series.

"Jamal is playing with unbelievable confidence. Everything he throws up, he knows it's going in," Van Gundy said. "We're at the opposite end of the spectrum. We have a lot of guys throwing it up, and they have no idea if it's going in."

The Magic shot only 39 percent (31 of 79) in this one, and actually rallied in the second half to reach that number.

Still, they had a chance at the end for a tying 3-pointer. Van Gundy set up a play for Hedo Turkoglu, but Al Horford foiled that by knocking the ball away from the Orlando player.

Turkoglu retrieved it near half-court, leaving him with only enough time to heave one up. It missed badly.

"We got Game 1 in Orlando, so our confidence is through the roof," Johnson said. "We're just trying to ride this wave right now."

Dwight Howard led the Magic with 29 points and 17 rebounds.


Thu, 07/27/2017 - 23:44


Thu, 07/27/2017 - 23:45

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