Sunday, November 29, 2015         

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Hot-shooting Magic pummel Hawks to stave off elimination

By Associated Press


ORLANDO, Fla. >> The Orlando Magic aren’t ready for their season to end just yet.

Facing their first opening-round postseason exit since 2007, the Magic blew out the Atlanta Hawks 101-76 yesterday.

Jason Richardson scored 17 points and J.J. Redick added 14 off the bench to lead the Magic.

The win trims Atlanta’s series lead to 3-2 and keeps alive the Magic’s hopes of becoming the ninth team in NBA history to win a playoff series after trailing 3-1. If they can win Game 6 tomorrow in Atlanta, they would host a decisive Game 7 on Saturday.

Magic center Dwight Howard battled foul trouble throughout the night and had just one field goal, finishing with eight points and eight rebounds. Orlando didn’t need his offense, though, as it broke out of a series-long shooting funk with 11 3-pointers.

“We’re a good shooting team,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “This is more of us than what we showed in the first four games. ... This isn’t an aberration. We’ve been doing this for four years. The first four games were the aberration.”

Josh Smith scored 22 points to lead Atlanta, which shot below 40 percent for just the second time this series.

The Magic cruised in the second half, allowing Howard to log his first extended rest of the series in the fourth quarter as their lead crept above 30 points.

In a short turnaround following his team’s loss in Game 4, Van Gundy preached patience over panic to his team. It paid off in a big way as Orlando was unselfish in its halfcourt sets and passed the ball to free up its shooters.

That allowed the Magic to push the pace and keep the game up-tempo. The Hawks have won every game with the Magic this season in which they kept them under 90 points.

The Hawks couldn’t miss in the first four games, but were cold throughout yesterday. They shot a series-low 36 percent overall and 25 percent from beyond the arc.

“The law of averages is eventually going to even out,” Redick said. “We didn’t shoot amazing tonight, but we shot very well.”

But more important, the Magic held Atlanta sixth-man Jamal Crawford, who came in averaging a team-best 24 points, to just eight on 2-for-8 shooting.

“They had a good run,” Crawford said. “They came out with a nothing to lose-type attitude.”

Coach Larry Drew said the Hawks would have liked to close out the series, but doesn’t think his team is rattled.

“We’re in a situation where we still feel good about ourselves,” Drew said.

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