Joe Johnson scored 25 points, Jamal Crawford finished with 23, and the Atlanta Hawks stunned the Magic, 103-93, in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series last night in Orlando, overcoming a monster night by Dwight Howard.
Atlanta was eliminated by Orlando in last year’s playoffs in the most lopsided four-game sweep in NBA history, but this game was much different. The Hawks led by as many as 18 points while running multiple bodies at Howard all night, and the rest of the Magic failed to step up.
Howard tied a career high with 46 points, to go along with 19 rebounds. Jameer Nelson had 27 points, but no other Orlando player reached double figures.
The Hawks stumbled into the playoffs on a six-game losing streak, but they carried an 85-71 lead into the final period and caught a break when Howard was whistled for his fifth foul with 10:58 to play.
But even with Howard playing less aggressively underneath on defense, Orlando put together a 10-1 run that cut the lead to 92-83 with 4:40 left.
Howard banked in a hook shot with under two minutes remaining to make it 98-90. But a steal by Josh Smith and 3-pointer by Crawford put the Magic back into scramble mode and Atlanta was able to play keep away the rest of the game.
Heat 97, 76ers 89 — Chris Bosh scored 25 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, LeBron James finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds, and host Miami held off a huge Philadelphia rally in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
Philadelphia held the Heat scoreless for 4:37 of the fourth quarter and scored 12 straight points to close to 88-87, but never got the lead after that.
Thaddeus Young led the 76ers with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
Sixers coach Doug Collins spent much of Game 1 pointing out the game’s free throw discrepancy to the officiating crew — Miami finished 31 for 39, while Philadelphia was only 12 for 15.
“I could [explain the discrepancy],’’ Collins said. “My grandkids would lose their college fund. So I’ll have to dance around that one.’’
Bulls 104, Pacers 99 — Derrick Rose scored 39 points and found Kyle Korver for a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 48 seconds left, helping Chicago stage a rally to beat Indiana in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at the United Center.
Trailing, 98-88, in the final period, the Bulls closed with a 16-1 run over the final 3:38.
Rose scored 7 points during the impressive finish, including a 3-point play and a floater that tied it at 99 with 1:27 left. He then hit Korver with a cross-court pass for a 3-pointer that gave the Bulls their first lead, 102-99.
Mavericks 89, Trail Blazers 81 — Dirk Nowitzki tallied 18 of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter to push Dallas past visiting Portland. Nowitzki scored 12 consecutive points in the game-turning spurt in the closing minutes when the Mavericks went ahead to stay in the opener of their Western Conference quarterfinal series.